Creole-spiced fresh corn and crab soup. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Creole-spiced fresh corn and crab soup. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Corn and crab soup perfect for warm days, cool nights

With the lingering summer warmth and the plethora of garden vegetables at the market, this shoulder season calls for something fresh and light for dinner. But the cooler nights and demanding daily routines that have set in beckon for something comforting and filling that can be made ahead.

This soup of fresh corn, succulent crab meat, colorful vegetables and herbs has it all covered.

The corn, which gives the soup a golden, hearty base and delightful sweetness, is used in multiple ways here. Some of the kernels are pureed to provide a sumptuous creaminess, while the rest are left whole to add texture and chew; the cobs are simmered in chicken broth before being discarded, to extract the full depth of the vegetable’s flavor. Celery, bell pepper and onion, known as the “holy trinity” of Creole cooking, add a savory depth of flavor that balances the corn’s sweetness, as do paprika, garlic and flecks of fresh thyme.

Luxurious bites of lump crabmeat, added at the end, make this soup a satisfying meal, which is lovely served with a simple salad and is a tasty way to celebrate September.

Creole-spiced fresh corn and crab soup

4 servings (makes a generous 8 cups)

The soup, without its addition of crab, can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Once the crab is added, the soup can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.

6 cups no-salt-added chicken broth

4 ears fresh corn, shucked

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, cut into small dice

1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into small dice

2 ribs celery, cut into small dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon sweet/mild paprika

½ teaspoon sea salt, or more as needed

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1⁄8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

8 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage

Pour 5 cups of the broth into a wide soup pot and place over medium heat.

As you cut the corn kernels away from their cobs, add the stripped cobs to the pot. Reserve the kernels, discarding any corn silk.

Increase the heat to medium-high; once the broth with cobs begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20 minutes, then discard the cobs.

Meanwhile, combine 2 cups of the corn kernels and the remaining 1 cup of broth in a blender; puree until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion, red bell pepper and celery; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened but not brown. Stir in the garlic, thyme, paprika, salt, and black and cayenne peppers; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the onion mixture to the broth in the soup pot; cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Stir in the corn puree and the remaining corn kernels; cover and cook for 5 minutes. Taste, and add more salt, as needed.

At this point, if you are making the soup for longer-term storage, do not add the crab. Otherwise, add the crab and cook, uncovered, for 1 minute. Serve hot.

Nutrition per serving: 220 calories, 17 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 580 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 9 g sugar

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