In my family, August is the month of corn. We buy ears by the dozen on roadside stands and markets, stocking up and immersing ourselves in its sweet juicy burst every chance we get. We chow down on the kernels like a typewriter, finishing one row before backtracking to the next. We proudly show off our ears if we can remove the entire kernel from its comb-like home. When its really fresh it hardly needs cooking– a quick two minute boil, but we’ve even been known to eat it raw.

{Aside: I was recently reminded that many children now have no idea what a typewriter is. I was helping some young family members (who “hate” corn) to shuck some ears the other week. We sat down to eat it, “like a typewriter,” I exclaimed, and was met with blank stares. Right, let’s file the typewriter up there with my (pre-color) GameBoy, the fact that cell phones weren’t around when I was your age, and all the other “it’s like…” I’ve dated myself with. Back to the corn…}

This is a favorite recipe in our home. Its perfect for these hot and humid days when summer refuses to loosen its grasp on us. Its a great cooling treat with the addition of cucumber and fresh herbs and its simple and quick to make. Add some croutons, or a hearty tear of bread for good measure and you have yourself a solid meal.

One ingredient I’m going to point out is the buttermilk in this recipe — it makes me cringe, and yet, I still love this soup.

Growing up, I have vivid memories of my mother watering down buttermilk and passing it off as “regular” milk. Seriously, buttermilk’s tangy flavor and thick consistency fool no one. I still cannot drink buttermilk– it makes me shiver when I pour it. Yet somehow, it is delicious in this recipe, a nod to the brilliant and poetic MFK Fisher, whose recipe I’ve adapted, and says it best herself about her buttermilk soup:

“If I tell smiling people who sip at it that is made of mashed shrimps and especially buttermilk, they wince, gag and hurry away. So I say nothing, and serve it from invisible hogsheads to unconscious but happy hordes.

If you don’t have buttermilk around you can sub out yogurt or sour cream, but I truly suggest you try the buttermilk version. You might be surprised that the kids actually enjoy it– Just never pass it off as “regular” milk to the young ones. They are smarter than you think.

Cold Corn Soup
serves 6
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or substitute water
4 ears corn
1/2 pound shrimp, chopped (optional)
4 cups buttermilk
1 cucumber, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 scallion, thin sliced
1/4 cup dill, chopped
salt/ pepper to taste

Adult: Begin warming the stock in a sauce pot over medium-high heat to bring to a boil.

Older Child or Young Under Guidance:  Hold the ear of corn vertical, and using a sharp knife, carefully slice corn kernels from the cob. Once stock is boiling, transfer corn cobs to the stock, reduce heat until stock simmers and cook 10 minutes while prepping other ingredients.

Use tongs to carefully remove corn cobs from the water. Remove stock pot from heat. Add corn kernels and if using, shrimp to the pot, stir to combine then cover and let sit 2 minutes.

Stir in buttermilk, chopped cucumber, celery, scallion, dill and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy chilled.

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