The Japanese love their hot or chilled corn potage and corn soup. This creamy and smooth soup will give you comfort as you welcome the cool evenings of late summer!
One of our family’s favorites, sweet corn, is in season from June to October. While we spent the summer in Japan, I received a lot of recipe requests for Corn Potage and Japanese Corn Soup. As soon as I returned, I quickly refined my original recipe so I could share this late, late-summer soup with you.
As the nights are starting to make subtle shift with a touch of cool air, this Japanese Corn Potage or Corn Soup would be the coziest way to savor the deliciousness of the last of season’s produce.
What is Corn Potage (Japanese Corn Soup)?
Potage itself refers to thick soups, stews or porridges, which has its origins in the middle ages cuisine of northern France. Despite it is a western-style soup, there is no western recipe for corn potage on the internet. Instead you would find Japanese corn potage recipes.
In the country where soups are mostly considered some types of miso soup, there are a few non-Japanese soups that are popular in Japan. Corn potage or corn soup is one of them, along with clam chowder, minestrone, borscht, and Chinese-style soups (chuka soup 中華スープ).
So what is corn potage? It’s a super creamy corn soup made with fresh/canned/frozen corn, onion, milk, and heavy cream. It’s ridiculously simple.
This creamy corn soup is called “potage” where the corn kernels and soup are blended till smooth and strained through fine mesh sieve. As a result, the soup has no fibers and the texture is silky smooth and creamy with a somewhat thick consistency.
When the soup is not blended and still has chunky bits of corn, we usually refer to it as corn soup. However, some people would call the creamy corn potage with thick consistency “corn soup” as well, so it may be a little confusing.
Both corn potage and corn soup are especially popular among children because Okosama Lunch (children’s menu) often includes corn potage/soup as a part of the kid’s meal next to Ebi Fry and Hambagu. We all grew up drinking corn potage and there is a nostalgic feeling attached to this soup for the Japanese.
If you’re in Japan, you can even get corn potage from the vending machine!
3 Tips to Make Delicious Corn Potage (Japanese Corn Soup)
Tip 1 – Cook the cobs together in the soup
If you’re using fresh corn on the cob to make this recipe, do not discard the cobs! Make sure to add them in the soup while cooking as they release delicious flavors and sweetness to the soup.
Tip 2 – Cook the soup with water
If you prefer strong corn flavor in your soup, I highly recommend cooking the soup with just water and get the maximum corn flavor out of the corn kernels.
Some other recipes for corn soup/corn potage recommend using vegetable or chicken broth or bouillon and I’ve tried them, but being a purist I stick to using ONLY water to extract the sweet corn flavor for pure undiluted taste.
Tip 3 – Adjust the ratio of creaminess with milk and heavy cream
I assume most of us prefer rich and creamy soup, but not everyone can afford getting extra calories from heavy cream. It’s entirely up to you how much heavy cream you want to add in this recipe. Feel free to adjust the ratio of heavy cream and milk for the 2 cups you add into the soup.
Which Do You Prefer: Corn Soup or Corn Potage?
When comes to the texture, you can choose to blend the corn kernels and strain, blend but not strain, or keep the corn kernels as they are. It’s really a personal preference.
For those who have tried corn potage in Japan and love it, I’m sure you would prefer following today’s method.
Corn Potage (Japanese Corn Soup)
- 4 large ears of corn (substitute with 2 cans or 3 cups frozen corn)
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt) (divided)
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ½ onion
- 1 ½ Tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 sprig parsley (chopped)
- 1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Gather all the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 450ºF (230ºC). For a convection oven, reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC).
- Slice off the corn kernels.
- Place the corn kernels on a rimmed baking sheet, saving the cobs for later.
- Add olive oil, sprinkle of kosher salt, and paprika.
- Mix all together with your hands and spread out evenly in a single layer. Roast the corn kernels at 450ºF (230ºC) degrees for 15 minutes. Once it's done, remove it from the oven and set it aside till Step 8.
- Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion against the grain. Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot (thicker at the base so it absorbs and distributes heat better).
- Add the sliced onion and pinch of kosher salt and sauté until translucent.
- Add the roasted kernels and water.
- Add the reserved cobs in the pot as they naturally sweeten the soup. Push the cobs down to see if they are covered with water. If not, add more water.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and lower the heat to medium-low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. During this time I highly recommend skimming the foam on the surface for more refined taste. After 15 minutes, discard the cobs.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until creamy and smooth. If you use a food processor or blender, let the soup cool for a few minutes before you start blending to avoid major splashes. Make sure to cover the hole with a towel when blending.
- If you want to make your soup similar to corn potage (Japanese corn soup), strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve for a smoother consistency.
- Transfer the soup back to the pot and add heavy cream and milk. The ratio is entirely up to you. Here I used equal parts of milk and heavy cream, 1 cup each. Bring back to a simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes or more, stirring frequently. Once the water evaporates and it’ll be more flavorful.
- Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Make sure to taste the soup when you season. Finely chop parsley. Serve the soup hot or chilled. You can drizzle olive oil and/or heavy cream and sprinkle the parsley to garnish.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container (or in the pot) and store in the refrigerator for 3 days and in the freezer for 2-3 weeks.