Rummaging around the depths of the freezer can uncover forgotten treasures. A bag brimming with de-kernel-ed corn cobs was the gold I discovered. In my quest to reduce any type of wastage I had collected these naked cobs during the warmer months, squirrelling them away in the hope that I would find a use for them.
It was a crisp winter's day when this bag of gold presented itself to me. I had been playing a game of freezer Tetris. I knew exactly what I was going to use them for, corn stock. Golden, sweet, sunshine fuelled stock in the depths of winter.
I tumbled the slightly frost-bitten cobs into my largest soup pot, and scattered black peppercorns from up above; a couple of bay leaves followed as well as an onion, quartered and the skin left intact. I also added sticks of celery, about two, and covered the whole lot with water. There it sat, simmering away, for the next three hours before it was strained.
The golden nectar was bottled and awaited its final destination where it would linger with thin egg noodles, ginger-infused poached chicken and vibrant green snow peas brightened with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. It was the soup that kept on giving, for in the days that followed it provided nourishment and warmth and dare i say, left me feeling slightly smug at having made good use out of what would otherwise have ended up in the compost.
Chicken, corn and noodle soup
You can of course just use chicken or vegetable stock in place of the corn stock, but if you do find yourself with naked corn cobs I urge you to give this a go. It takes the soup up a notch.
1 whole chook
1 brown onion, peeled and halved
4cm piece of ginger, sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1-litre corn stock (recipe below)
1-litre chicken stock
a tin of corn kernels, or fresh if in season
thin egg noodles, I used 6 nests
snow peas halved
4 spring onions, sliced
juice of a lime, plus extra wedges to serve
fresh coriander, sliced fresh chillies (optional)
Place the chook, onion, ginger, brown sugar and fish sauce into a large stock pot and then pour over the corn and chicken stock. You need enough to cover everything.
Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. cover and cook for 1 hour, turning the chicken over halfway through the cooking time. Allow chook to rest in the stock for half an hour.
Remove chook, strain stock and then return strained stock back into the pot. Simmer for another half an hour. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat and set it aside.
Cook noodles according to packet instructions and then rinse with cold water.
Add the drained tinned corn (or fresh) along with the noodles, shredded chicken, snow peas, spring onions and lime juice. Taste to see if you need extra salt, some sweetness or a bit more tang.
Serve with extra lime wedges, chopsticks and a spoon if you don't intend to slurp directly from the bowl. fresh coriander and sliced chillies would make a wonderful addition too, we have little mouths to feed and they don't appreciate green spindly things nor do they have the tolerance for anything too spicy.
Naked corn stock
Makes about 1 litre
8-10 naked corn cobs
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 brown onion, skin intact, quartered
2 sticks of celery
about 5 litres of water
Place everything into a large stock pot, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for at least 3 hours before straining and bottling.