Sweetcorn and Red Pepper Soup

The freshest corn on the cob has been rare this year outside Paris. Call me a food snob but there was no way I was going for prepackaged corn, wilting under cellophane in the supermarket. So when I saw a magnificent pile of fresh corn at our local farmers’ market last week, I pounced on them like there was no tomorrow. Autumn may officially be upon us but I’m still hanging on by a corn thread to the last best fruits and vegetables of French summer.

Sweetcorn and red pepper cream soup recipe

I first tasted the most creamy sweetcorn soup on our last visit to South Africa in the French colonial wine town of Franschhoek, near Cape Town. Antoine and I had splashed out to celebrate our wedding anniversary at Grande Provence, where the chef had bowled us over with his soup (quick pause here for a pun groan). It was simply but elegantly poured at the table from a white porcelain milk jug into an oversized rimmed porcelain bowl, serving as a moat around a heap of turnip purée and crowned with a gigantic tempura prawn, along with a few other fancy green garnishes.

I was in awe. Antoine knows that these kind of special eating-out moments are always a good investment, as I’ll probably try to copy the experience at home.  Well, in this case, without the fancy frills part. Over the last couple of years, this creamy, velvety velouté soup has turned into a much simpler but delicious starter for dinner guests.  To cut the sweetness, I added red pepper and a hint of smoked paprika. Smaller helpings of this is better, as it is pretty rich. If you can’t find fresh corn on the cob (which really is best), then use frozen kernels and 3/4 litre vegetable stock.

Sweetcorn red pepper soup - a French creamy velouté

Sweetcorn and Red Pepper Soup Recipe

Serves 6

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

3 fresh corns on the cob
20g butter
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 sprigs flat parsley leaves
100g single cream

sweetcorn red pepper soup - method

1. Rip off the outer leaves and threads and snap off the bases with a twist of the wrist. Cut the kernels from the cobs and throw them into a large heavy-based pan, including the bare cobs (this will help make your natural stock).  Pour over just enough water to cover the lot (about 1.25 litres) and bring to the boil then boil for another 5 minutes.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and soften the onion and pepper gently over low to medium heat for about 10 minutes until translucent then add the smoked paprika.  Meanwhile, using a strainer, remove and discard the cobs. Strain off the corn and add to the onion and peppers. Continue to gently soften for another 5 minutes and continue to reduce the corn stock during this time.

3. Add the sweetcorn stock and cream to the vegetables and simmer for another 5 minutes.  Add the parsley and season to taste then liquidise either in a blender or using a stick blender.  If the soup is too thick, I add a dash of semi-skimmed milk.

sweetcorn red pepper soup

Serve with fresh bread and salted butter or why not a savoury macaron if you prefer gluten-free?
(Savoury macaron recipes are in my first book, Mad About Macarons!*).
Totally toe-curling with a glass of chilled Chenin Blanc wine.

(*N.B. None of my Amazon links are affiliate links).

12 replies
  1. Betty
    Betty says:

    I suspect my father would have adored this soup, as he was a voracious corn fan, such as what Christina mentioned! Of course, as is typical of regions in each country, the residents of Maine would claim that the best corn is grown here (and I would agree that it is very, very good), but I know that there are many places which grow excellent corn. They grow a variety here called “Sugar and Gold” that is mixed yellow and white and so very sweet. I’m sure I can easily find some to make this soup in a few weeks time!

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Thanks for that, Betty. I’ve never been to Maine and would love to try the Sugar and Gold kind. Even better, to have a tasting of them alongside the French ones. This soup can be pretty sweet – that’s why I love adding the peppers and the extra kick of the spice to counteract it.

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      That’s correct Katherine. Yes, take out the sweetcorn kernels from the stock, adding the kernels with the onion and peppers to soften together. The stock should be on its own and reduced.

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Pear too? Wow! That sounds a wonderful idea – thanks Mardi. Although in that case, I can imagine you’d have to take out the smoked paprika…

  2. Liz
    Liz says:

    What a creamy, outstanding soup! I need to save this for next summer when sweet corn is at its peak 🙂

    P.S. Biscoff cookies are known as Lotus speculoos in Europe.

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Thanks Liz. I should’ve posted this sooner but it’s the first time in ages I finally saw such great corn – yet last year it was so plentiful. I do hope you make this since we adore it! Thanks also for the biscoff question. I was so worried at first since I have a Speculoos ice cream in “Teatime in Paris” but relieved to see that Waverley Books caught it for the US market and have mentioned it. You’re a star! x

  3. Christina @ Christina's Cucina
    Christina @ Christina's Cucina says:

    I would LOVE this soup as I am a sweet corn aficionada on every level! I once ate 7 ears of corn at one sitting when I was about 15 years old! Michigan’s sweet corn is one of the best things they grow. Have to try this soup very soon and will let you know the result! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      Isn’t that funny? 7 corn ears in one go? Here sweetcorn isn’t that popular but I do hope you like this soup, Christina. Wish I could get more of this but that’s what makes it special in our house, I suppose!



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