6 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Juice of ½ lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
Grilled vegetables of your choice: zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, mushrooms
Carefully cut the kernels off the ears of corn. To do this, stand each ear of corn upright on its wide end, then use a serrated knife to carefully saw down the length of the cob, rotating and repeating until all of the kernels are removed. Set the kernels aside. Do not discard the cobs.
To make corn stock, place the cobs in a large stockpot. Add enough water to just barely cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the water has a rich corn flavor. Strain the stock and discard the cobs and any solids. Set aside.
Reserve ¾ cup of the corn kernels, then place the remaining kernels in a blender. Purée until smooth, about 45 seconds. If needed, add a bit of the corn stock to help get the blender started. Pour the purée through a mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Discard any bits of skin.
Add the thyme and bring the soup to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Do not boil.
As the soup heats, the starch from the corn will begin to thicken the soup. Once the soup has thickened to the consistency of applesauce, about 3 to 4 minutes, add the lemon juice and the reserved corn stock a bit at a time until the soup reaches the desired thickness. You should have 4 to 6 cups of soup. Season with salt.
Heat a small skillet over medium. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom on the pan. When the oil is hot, add the reserved corn kernels. Do not stir until the corn has a nice brown color. Stir the corn, then remove it from the heat.
Divide the soup between serving bowls, then top each serving with some of the seared corn and any other grilled vegetables desired.
Cook's notes: A garnish of summer vegetables, grilled and cut into bite-sized pieces, makes this soup your own creation. Try zucchini or summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers or mushrooms, alone or in combination. If you leave out the corn kernels and don't thin the soup with the corn stock, this becomes a luxurious sauce for seafood like halibut, tilapia or shrimp.
Nutrition values per serving: 150 calories, 5 g fat (0 saturated), 27 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein, 0 cholesterol, 120 mg sodium.
Adapted from Michelle Obama's "American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America"