September 15, 2010

Corn Stalk Stock

As a prelude to the big shebang (and no, I’m not talking about “She Bangs” for you Ricky Martin and American Idol fans, but the reveal of Friday’s Salt-Free My Recipe surprise), I wanted to share with you the essential base to making a delicious corn chowder and a great way to reuse your corncobs one more time before throwing them in the compost bin.

A few months ago, I happened to click through to this adorable video on where Miss Sophie Dahl (cookbook writer, model, and granddaughter to Roald…and yes, I’m totally jealous) demonstrates her recipe for asparagus soup. The ingenious moment comes when she uses a lonely parmesan rind to make a creamy and cream-less stock, coaxing out the leftover cheese flavors with a slow simmer.

While this Sodium Girl can’t use Sophie’s parm trick for her low sodium soups, you better believe that I stole the idea to create another kind of recycled, low sodium broth. Leftover corncobs, water, and heat equals delicious.

Now the idea to repurpose previously nibbled corncobs is not novel, and home cooks like Ina Garten, Mark Bittman, and Martha Stewart (you may have heard of them) have all been using this trick forever. But I’m still going to give myself a pat on the back for saving Monday’s oven-roasted treats to make concentrated corn stock for Friday’s soup.

The recipe is crazy simple. You only need kernel-free cobs, some herbs, water, and time. The longer you let this puppy boil, the more developed the corn flavor will be. And when you add your brown butter, fresh corn kernels, softened potatoes, and of course, a fishy topper (to be revealed) to this well-loved stock, the creamy undertones will continue to shine and the fresh corn flavor will remain in the spotlight.

I happen to also be a sucker for a mug of fresh broth – it is a wonderful way to start the morning and beats the stink of coffee breath – and I’ve been sipping on this stock for days, enjoying its rich yet delicate flavor.  Even if you do not plan on making a corn chowder, this recipe is still worth throwing on the stove. The gentle vegetable broth works well in risottos, watery stews like bouillabaisse, and chicken noodle soups and it offers a more diverse taste than the typical carrot, celery, and onion trifecta.

So if you have some cobs on-hand, go ahead and make a pot of this stock to keep in your freezer for 911, low-sodium broth emergencies or days when that fall cold catches you. And if you’re preparing for this week’s big Salt-Free reveal, then get those stalks simmering and get ready to kick it up a few notches on Friday.

Chow on.


  • 2 to 4 kernel-free corncobs
  • A few sprigs of parsley, fresh basil leaves, or tarragon
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 6 cups of water


1. Place corncobs, herbs, garlic and water into a large stock or crock pot.

2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and once the water is rolling for five minutes, reduce heat to a low simmer. Allow to cook for 45 minutes to two hours (depending on how much time you have). The longer it cooks, the stronger the flavor.

3. When ready, take pot off the heat and strain the liquid so that only the clear stock remains.

thedailydish September 18, 2010 at 6:12 am

Brilliant idea! And I bet you can come up with some terrific broth using other left-over compost-ables. Another win-win, SG – great job!

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