What gives this thick, voluptuous soup its deep-golden flavor and aroma is toasted dried summer-sweet Cope's corn. Chef Linton Hopkins embellishes the soup with tender, briny shrimp and foresty mushrooms, but it would also be delicious with crabmeat or bacon & or with nothing at all to distract you from its mysterious, soul-satisfying essence.

Active time: 1 1/4 hr Start to finish: 1 3/4 hr

Servings: Makes 8 (first course) servings


For corn soup
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (7 1/2-ounce) box Cope's toasted dried sweet corn
1 cup heavy cream
6 to 7 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 thyme sprig
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
4 black peppercorns

For mushrooms and shrimp
3/4 pound mixed fresh wild mushrooms
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3/4 pound medium shrimp in shell, peeled, leaving tail fan attached, and deveined
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
About 3/4 cup crème fraîche

Equipment: cheesecloth; kitchen string

Cook corn and make soup:
Cook onion in butter in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium-low heat, stirring, until softened. Add corn, heavy cream, and 6 cups stock and bring to a boil.

Wrap parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and tie with string to make a bouquet garni. Add to pot with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and simmer, covered, 45 minutes.

Discard bouquet garni, then purée corn mixture in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), about 2 minutes per batch. Strain soup as puréed through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heavy saucepan, pressing on and then discarding solids.

Return soup to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and keep warm over low heat. Thin with additional stock if necessary.

Cook mushrooms and shrimp:
Trim mushrooms, discarding any dark gills and tough stems, then slice or tear into bite-size pieces.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook mushrooms, stirring, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and melt remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in skillet. Meanwhile, toss shrimp with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook shrimp in butter, turning occasionally, until barely cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Return mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in chives and salt and pepper to taste.

Mound shrimp and mushrooms in shallow bowls, then add soup and top each serving with a dollop of crème fraîche.

Cooks' note: Corn mixture can be cooked, puréed, and strained 1 day ahead. Chill, uncovered, until cool, then cover. Reheat before proceeding.


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