My daughter said she wanted quinoa once when we were out and it made me feel kind of sheepish, because feeding your kid quinoa is the kind of thing that pegs you as some kind of insufferable earth parent. But we like quinoa, folks. What do you want?
It’s too bad that cooking and eating have become such culturally fraught activities, because it makes for a lot of dogmatism. We try to be mindful of that and walk a middle road at Brooklyn Supper. We eat local and organic when we can and try to get as much of our food as we can from the farmer’s market, but we’re not giving up coffee or lemons or, as we’ve mentioned, the occasional tomato in February.
One thing that’s been a tough adjustment has been meat. We try to eat meat that’s been raised humanely and naturally. But that can cost a lot more than the supermarket stuff, and as a result, we’ve really changed how we eat meat in our house. This corn soup is a perfect example of a way to use meat frugally. The smoked ham hock gives it flavor and some protein. The part of the ham hock that didn’t go back into the soup after we made the broth, we fed to our daughter, who loved it. The leftover broth was smoky and rich and was excellent in a potato-leek soup a few days later. We got all that out of a ham hock that cost less than $3.50.
Corn Soup with Ham Hock
4 ears of corn, blanched, kernels removed and cobs reserved
2 red onions halved
1 large ham hock
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1 red or yellow pepper diced
2 potatoes cubed
1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Blanch the corn in boiling water for 4 minutes. Run under cold water and then cut the kernels off into a bowl. Reserve the corn cobs.
In a large soup pot, melt the butter and sear the ham hock and onions of medium-high heat. When ham hock is browned and the onions are translucent, toss in the reserved cobs and bay leaf, add 3-4 quarts water, bring to a boil and simmer for two hours. Strain the broth, reserving the ham hock and refrigerating or freezing any extra broth.
Bring 2 quarts of the broth back up to a boil, add a good pinch of salt, and then add the potatoes and cook under they are tender, roughly eight minutes. Mash the potatoes lightly with a potato masher. Add the corn kernels, ham hock meat, red or yellow pepper, and apple cider vinegar. Check the salt and acid levels and adjust as necessary. Simmer for 10 minutes and serve.