Is This Too Corny for You? Fresh Corn Soup with Smoky Garnish


A hydrogen atom walks into a bar.  He turns to the bartender and says, “I think I’ve lost an electron!”.  The bartender replies, “Are you positive?” [source: my Biochemistry prof at CSNN]

Ba-DUM-pa!  Yes, indeedy, I am a lover of corny jokes.  I giggle uncontrollably when I hear a good one, I hoard them for later use at dinner parties, I re-tell them whenever I get a chance.  That beauty up above, for instance, I’ve been saving since 2002 when I heard it in a classroom in nutrition school.

I inherited the “corn” gene from both my parents in equal measure.  My father is one of those people who has a joke at the ready for any circumstance.  Drop him into a group of people discussing the latest in cloning techniques, and he might pipe up with “So, a geneticist and a sheep walk up to a bar. . . ”  My mother, on the other hand, was the Queen of Sap, unparalleled in her ability to cry at pretty much anything and everything that touched on sentimental or mawkish.  A saccharine birthday card with “I love you” scrawled at the end?  Cue the waterworks.  A radio report about a German Shepherd saving its owner from drowning? Hand me that box of Kleenex, would you?  An über-corny made-for-TV movie that she didn’t even watch? Watch out for those puddles at her feet.

Question: What is green and sings? Answer: Elvis Parsley. [source: seventeen year-old Ricki, as an audience member on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, who was chosen to tell a joke on air.  Yes, folks, that is the only one I could think of, and I told it to millions of viewers across the country.]

The aforementioned movie incident occurred many years ago, and it’s a perfect illustration of my mother’s extreme sensitivity.  One weekend in high school when my friend Sterlin was sleeping over, we parked ourselves in the basement family room, splayed out on the carpet as we watched a chintzy made-for-TV movie called Message to My Daughter.  In a nutshell, here’s the plot: a young woman discovers a series of cassette tapes her (now dead) mother had made for her while she (the mother) was dying of cancer.  The movie skips between present-day scenes of the girl listening to the tapes and flashbacks of the mother as she records her pregnancy, her daughter’s toddlerhood, and her eventual decline from the disease.

In the final scene of the film, the young woman visits her mother’s grave.  Kneeling down before the tombstone, she whispers something like, “Mom, I never knew you, but you were the best mother a girl could ever have.  And I love  you.”

Now, as it happened, our TV room was situated midway between the stairs leading to the upstairs and the laundry room, also in the basement. This particular Friday evening my mom was doing laundry, so she had to walk through the TV room two or three times as she went from the kitchen upstairs to the washer, back up to the kitchen, then back down again to the dryer.  Coincidentally, it was time to empty the dryer just seconds before that final graveyard scene.  My mother walked into the room, heard the words, “. . .but you were the best mother a girl could ever have.  And I love you,” and before Sterlin and I could say “Bounce dryer sheets,” my mother was frozen in front of the television, a stifled sob caught in her throat and tears streaming down her cheeks onto the folded towels she clutched to her chest.

Oh, yes, it took a while for her to live that one down, I’ll tell you.

A neutron goes into a bar and asks the bartender, “How much for a beer?”  The bartender replies, “For you, no charge.” [Joe Cassaletto]

Well, even though it seems I’ve inherited my mother’s predilection for corny sentiments (Is it soft and furry? Does it involve losing a prized possession, home, food, sentimental item?  Does an old person connect with a younger person? Does a young man offer a young woman a token of his affection?  Does a teenaged girl go to her mother’s grave and say, “Mom, I never got to know you, but I really love you”?–yep, I’ll cry at it, too), there is also a great love of corn–the edible kind–in the RH household as well.

Although I can’t consume much of it on the ACD , I have always loved fresh corn on the cob, ever since the days when everyone ate locally by default and real corn was a once-a-year treat.  My sisters and I all loved the nubbly batons with their succulent, sunny grains lined up perfectly like beads on an abacus.  At the same time, our elation was tinged with a touch of sadness, since their appearance also augured our return to school and the end of summer.

When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading. [source: Henny Youngman]

And while I’ve made corn chowder before, I’ve never prepared a corn-based soup with kernels cut fresh from the cob.  This recipe is my adaptation of one I came across last weekend, when the HH and I spent a couple of nights up north and whiled away the time in front of a saltwater swimming pool, reading magazines.  It’s from Good Housekeeping, a publication I don’t read regularly, yet something about the creamy yellow base with its contrasting garnish and the sheer simplicity of the recipe appealed to me.  Something that fresh and oh, so corny–well, how could I resist?

A helium atom walks into a bar. The bartender screams at it, “Hey!  You’re stinking drunk!”  The helium atom doesn’t react. [source: Joan Rivers]

You’ll find the flavor here is just the right combination of sweet and smoky, with both the paprika and baked tofu offering a balanced pairing alongside the corn and potato.  Creamy, cool, and slightly sweet, this soup is a great way to bid summer adieu as we anticipate the autumn harvest.  The HH enjoyed this with some crusty bread, while I had it plain; as corny as it was, the soup was enough for me on its own.

Okay, I’ve got one, Mum!  Elsie walks into a bar and sits down on a bar stool and says to the bartender, ‘Give me my treats, NOW!”  And the bartender says, ‘Okay, here!’! Ha ha ha ha ha isn’t that a good one, Elsie?”

“Zip it, Chaser.  Honestly, do you think anyone would find that funny, when it could never happen in real life? I mean, everyone knows we’re not allowed up on the furniture.”

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  1. It is clearly corn season. I was going to make something similar today and changed my mind to clean out the frig before the weekly trip to the farmers’ market tomorrow. Your soup sounds great!

    My pharmacist friend tells some of those same jokes, LOL. I would have sworn he was the only one. 😉

    hope you are having a great weekend,

  2. I’m just back from épluchette de blé d’Inde – and you’re so right when you say it is a once-a-year treat! Now I regret not taking some of the cobs that were left after we had stuffed ourselves full at the party; I’d have loved to use them to try your soup! Oh well, the season’s not over yet… 🙂

  3. i don’t think “too corny” is even possible!

  4. Not too corny for me LOL!

  5. I would have cried at the film too! What a pretty, pretty soup. I’ve never tried a corn soup before, but this looks yummy 🙂

  6. We are not that much into corn here in Germany. So I never know what to do with it when the fresh cobs are available. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe, Ricky. I have tons of smoked tofu right now and it just sounds perfect to have it in this soup.

  7. great jokes! I love the henry youngman one – and the chowder – fresh corn and smoked paprika are some of my favourite things in the kitchen. Sylvia often eats corn on the cob and if I have to eat a little to encourage her it is no great hardship for me. But I am not good at corny jokes – never remember the punchline – though I can be sentimental

  8. Delicious, Ricki! I plan to post a raw corn soup soon 🙂

  9. I’m glad I never saw that movie — yikes, our house would probably still be flooded!

    I like jokes (your collection of science jokes is great!) but I never can remember them so seldom get to tell any. 🙁

    I just replenished my supply of smoked paprika — perfect reason to make corn soup.

    • Oh, I forgot to mention that Sterlin and I were bawling, too. 😉 And I’m like you–can never remember the punchlines! (Or else I do remember the punchline, but not the lead-in!).

  10. Seriously, you were on the johnny carson show? You just bumped up to legendary status in my book 🙂

    I think your dad and my father-in-law would have a field day of corny joke telling together. I can only imagine.

    • It was a “stump the comedian” night and I got to stand up and tell a joke sans punchline–if he didn’t guess the punchline, I got a prize (which ended up being a voucher for a 6-foot long sub sandwich). We’ll have to get my dad and your dad-in-law together some day! 😉

  11. Love the jokes, love the soup!

  12. I am so bad that I will start tearing up at the gym while on the treadmill or elliptical watching TV when a corny commercial comes on, lol! People must think I am crazy as I sweat away furiously wiping away tears while gazing at the tv…

    I love fresh corn! Unfortunately summer is still going strong here…90s and humid with oppressive humidity. Ugh. I hope it cools down while corn is still in season so I can make this!


  13. I love corny jokes too. Sometimes they’re so goofy you just can’t help but laugh. Your soup sounds delicious. I love anything with corn in it and for years now I have been meaning to make a corn soup. I swear, I’ll do it some day.

  14. It’s never too corny for me! I love corny jokes because they are sweet and silly and they always make me smile.

    And speaking of corny, that soup looks AMAZING! The flavor combination of sweet corn with smoky and spice would be outrageous. I can’t wait to give this perfect summer recipe a try.

  15. I just made corn chowder, but next time I’m trying your recipe! It looks delicious!

  16. I can never get enough corn, and love corny jokes too. 😀 And I’m also a big sap. I cry at commercials, and I tear up when I’m driving in traffic and an ambulance comes by and everyone pulls over (because it shows the good part of humanity?) Anyway this soup looks delicious, and I think I might actually have a mint recipe to contribute! I don’t usually cook with mint but felt like I should give it a chance.

  17. Mwahahaha! Elvis Parsley! I loved all the corny jokes, especially Chaser’s! That pup has some natural talent! 😀

    What a beautiful soup! The pictures are gorgeous! I am already ready for my minty challenge, all the ingredients have been bought and I should have it all ready by the end of the month! 🙂

    • Chaser is thrilled that you appreciate her unique brand of humor. 😉 Looking forward to your contribution to the challenge this month–thanks for playing along!

  18. WOW, that soup looks awesome!

  19. what a lovely presentation, Ricki!

  20. This soup looks incredible. It is literally making my mouth water! I’ve been getting plenty of corn in my CSA box and I love anything that contains tempeh bacon…

    For some reason I still don’t have smoked paprika, though. Over the years I’ve ended up with every ingredient imaginable, from asafoetida to kecap manis, but somehow I never get to the smoked paprika! I need to remedy that immediately so I can make this soup!

  21. This soup sounds amazing! I have so been enjoying fresh corn lately, and with a smoky topping, it will be even better. Thanks for the great recipe!

  22. I, for one, LOVE your Elvis Parsley joke!

    Chaser is pretty good at telling jokes. I like it.


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