I wish I could remember who gave me this recipe, because I'd like to thank them very much for it. It's everything I want in a recipe: quick as a flash, filling, nourishing and tasty. Best of all is that it can be spiced to the eyebrows for adults who appreciate heat and crunch, or served plain and creamy to young and picky eaters.
White wine and mustard powder are not traditional ingredients in Sopa de Maiz, but I find that they elevate what is essentially a sweetcorn (and thus very sweet) purée to another level. A good home-made stock adds lovely depth of flavour: when I have time, I made a chicken stock from scratch using a whole chicken, and add the cooked chicken flesh to the soup. If you'd like a really rich soup for vegetarians, stir in two cups of grated Cheddar just before you serve it.
Mexican-Style Sweetcorn Soup
6 cups frozen mielie (corn) kernels
2 cups (500 ml) very hot chicken or vegetable stock, or boiling water
3 Tbsp (45 ml) butter
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
1½ cups (375 ml) milk
2 tsp (10 ml) good dried oreganum
1 tsp (5 ml) Hot English Mustard Powder
salt and milled black pepper
a squeeze of lime juice
For adults, add any or all of the following, to taste:
green chillies, finely minced
red chilli flakes
a few shakes of Tabasco sauce
sour cream or plain white yoghurt
finely sliced spring onions
finely chopped tomatoes
chopped fresh coriander
fresh lime wedges
Put the mielie (corn) kernels, still frozen, or thawed if you have time, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pour in the hot stock or water and process to a thick, creamy purée. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little more stock or water. Melt the butter in a large pot, add the garlic and cook for a minute, without letting the garlic brown. Pour in the white wine and bubble briskly for five minutes, or until the wine has reduced by half. Now add the puréed sweetcorn mixture, milk, oreganum and mustard powder. Stir well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, skimming off any foam as it rises. If the mixture seems too thick and is bubbling volcanically, thin it down with more stock.
If you're making the soup for adults, add your choice of the ingredients listed above, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Just before you serve the soup, add a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice - just enough to give it a pleasant sharpness. Don't add too much, though, or the soup may curdle, and make sure the heat is turned off when you add the juice. If the soup looks a bit grainy, give it a good blitz with a stick blender (or in a liquidiser) until it is creamy again.
Serve in heated bowls, topped with grated Cheddar, a dollop of sour cream or white yoghurt, and a flurry of crunchy and/or silky toppings. Avocado Whip is gorgeous blobbed onto this soup.