Monday, October 29, 2012

Trinidad Corn Soup

The skies are grey and the trees are trembling, hurricane Sandy's a'comin and I've prepared for her by equipping my dining room table with this hearty and comforting soup.  Considered to be an after-party street food in Trinidad & Tobago, this soup is rich, creamy, utterly nourishing and delightfully filling; whether enjoyed after a long night of dancing, or during a dark and stormy hurricane.

There are many variations of how to make this soup, therefore there is no correct recipe.  I've had corn soup with cassava, spinach and big chunks of carrots.  It is even tasty with cornmeal dumplings and potatoes, throw in a handful of ochroes even, it will still warm your soul and make you feel nice and cozy.  However you choose to customize your corn soup, one thing is for sure, it’s got to have pureed corn kernels and ears of corn afloat.  My husband made sure I was well aware of this before we got married; it was even written in our vows, no really. Okay, maybe not, but the pureed corn makes a difference and nothing beats biting into a sweet and juicy ear of corn that has been simmering in a coconut milk and split pea broth that's been packed with flavorful and nourishing vegetables. 

I remember the first, second, and third time I had this soup. The first was during my trip to Trinidad a few years back.  We went out with a few friends to a local night club and danced the night away, upon leaving the night club, there stood a man behind a stall, dishing out large foam cups of this aromatic soup.  I had to have one.  It was sweet, salty, crunchy (from the corn kernels), and smooth. Pure heaven.  The second time I had this soup was during my trip to Toronto.  Similar setting- night club, dancing, hunger, corn soup man waiting outside.  It was equally as delicious and memorable as the one I had in Trinidad.  The third time I had this soup was right in my own kitchen.  Making it myself brought back fun memories of laughter, shenanigans, and just plain out having a good time with friends. 

Today I have am having this soup under different circumstances; hurricane Sandy has made her way to upstate New York and is lashing my window sill with heavy rain. As I sit here enjoying each spoonful and watching Sandy’s wrath, I am remembering my time in beautiful Trinidad and chilly Toronto.  Enjoy my friends and be safe for those who are living on the East Coast of the United States.  

I see you hiding and I promise I will eat you after I'm done with this blog post. 

Look at that plantain, swoon! 

These are the ingredients you'll need to create the base of the soup: split peas, corn kernels, green and red peppers, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, salt, black pepper, butter and water. Whew, that was a mouthful! 

Grab a deep pot, melt the butter, add all the ingredients, except the water, and saute for a minute or two. 

Grab a sprig or two of thyme and parsley...

Add 3 cups of water and bring to a low boil until split peas are soft.

Once liquid has reduced, check to see if peas are soft.

Mmm deliciousness in the making...

This part is important, we need to puree the ingredients to make the base of the soup creamy and thick.  You can use a swizzle stick, whisk, or a blender.  Now you all know how much I love my immersion blender, I use it for so many things, especially soups.  It takes about 30 seconds to puree this soup using this hand held blender.  

Some may prefer the base a little chunky and if you do, don't puree too much.

Others, like myself, prefer a smooth and silky base.

Grab some coconut milk, I prefer to use a lite coconut milk since canned coconut milk can sometimes be overpowering and quite heavy. 

Add 4 cups water and 1 1/2 cups coconut milk to the puree, give it a good stir. Add black pepper, additional salt,  or a bouillon cube here.  Bring to a low boil for about 30 minutes so all the flavors can slowly meld together.

While the broth boils, prep the other ingredients you'd like to put in the soup.  I love chewing bits and pieces of corn in my corn soup so I've included kernels.  I also love plantains and cassava, and even spinach. Today I've kept it simple with just corn kernels, diced carrots, green plantains, and a must for corn soup, ears of corn.  Feel free to use freshly chopped corn or frozen corn.  I've used the frozen ears here.  

Add plantains, carrots, and corn, let boil until cooked through.  Add dumplings (which I forgot to take a photo of!) when soup looks like it is almost done as dumplings cook within 2-3 minutes. 

Serve and enjoy!

Trinidad Corn Soup
Serves 4-6

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup diced red pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/3 cup yellow split peas
  • Scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 3 cups water (for base)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 4 cups water (for use after pureeing base)
  • 1 tsp salt or 1 small bouillon cube
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 green plantains
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • Corn kernels
  • 6-8 ears of corn
See recipe here.

  1. Finely chop onion, garlic, celery stalk, carrot, red pepper and green pepper, set aside.  Melt butter in a deep pot, add all finely chopped vegetables and corn. Add salt, black pepper, parsley, and thyme, saute for 1-2 minutes then add 3 cups water, bring to a low boil for 35-40 minutes.   Add more water 1/2 cup at a time if split peas still need to cook more. 
  2. Once split peas are completely soft, use a blender to puree soup.  
  3. Add coconut milk, 4 cups water, salt or bouillon cube, black pepper, and scotch bonnet if using.  Stir and bring to a low boil, about 20-25 minutes. 
  4. Make dumplings, set aside.
  5. While soup boils, peel and chop plantains into 2 inches.  If using fresh corn on the cob, chop into 4 inch pieces.   Add corn kernels, corn ears, diced carrots, and plantains to soup.  Break dumpling dough into pieces and drop into soup.  Let vegetables and dumplings cook until plantains are cooked through.
  6. Remove from heat and adjust salt and black pepper to taste.

  • Spinach, potatoes, cassava, edoes, or ochroes can all be added to this soup based on your preference. 
  • If soup is too thick the next day, add a little bit of water and reheat on stove top. 
  • Buy and immersion blender, it will make your soup making feats so much easier! You don't have to break the bank for one of these, here is a good one at a decent price.  This is the one I own, which was a gift. 



  2. Question: I'm making this on saturday so I'm hoping you reply asap :)

    You have Corn Kernals on the ingredients list twice (1 cup corn kernels and second ingredient from last), how many kernals do I actually need?

    6-8 Ears of Corn? Does that mean I have 4 corns and just cut them in half to get 8?

    1. Hi there,

      Hope I'm not too late in my reply! The 1 cup of corn kernels listed as the 4th ingredient will be pureed and a part of the base of the soup. Some people don't add it, but I think it gives the soup a nice flavor. The second from the last ingredient for corn kernels is just a handful of corn that you'll add when the plantain etc to boil. Lastly you can certainly cut your corn ears in half! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  3. Such a warm hearty soup bursting with flavour. Hubby and I enjoyed this soup tonight . This soup is certainly going to be a staple in our house this winter . Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipie .

  4. Thank you for sharing this corn soup recipe. I am enjoying some as I type. You made it during Hurricane Sandy, I made it to warm up from the brutal cold weather we are experiencing thanks to the polar vortex the entire East Coast is under. I followed your directions step by step, the only difference is that my dumplings are regular and not cornmeal (didn't have it), but it tastes fantastic. It reminds me of the corn soup I purchased around the Savannah in POS. Kudos