Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Maque Choux Soup + What does Temper have to do with Cooking

Maque choux is a wonderful soup to serve as a transition between the end of summer and the beginning of fall. We’ve had a nip in the air the last few mornings, reminding us that fall will be upon us before we know it. It’s kind of bittersweet for me, because summer has and will always be my favorite time of the year. Soon the black-eyed Susans in our perennial garden, the prolific bunches of basil in the herb garden, the fresh summer home-grown tomatoes, sweet juicy peaches, and local corn will be a distant memory, only to be replaced by local apples, pumpkins, and crisp mountain evenings. Although with all of the rain we’ve had, locals say there won’t be many pumpkins this year and the few that will be available will be pricy.

Maque choux (pronounced “mock shoe”) is a creamy, rich Cajun dish from southern Louisiana, consisting of corn, green bell peppers, tomatoes and onions and finished with a dash of hot sauce, which is considered normal for Cajun dishes. The trick to making good maque choux, is using the freshest corn available. Epicurious has a very good recipe, link here. The maque choux soup shown here is a take on the original dish.

This is a more complex dish than you might think when you first read the recipe. There is a step near the end of the recipe when you add some of the hot soup to the sour cream that requires “tempering”. Temper, or tempering, is a cooking term for what you do when you add a small amount of hot liquid to a cool liquid to prevent the cool liquid from cooking or setting. According to Linda’s Culinary Dictionary, the word temper means “to slowly bring up the temperature of a cold or room temperature ingredient by adding small amounts of a hot or boiling liquid. Adding the hot liquid gradually prevents the cool ingredient (such as the sour cream in this recipe) from cooking or setting.” Tempering is often called for in sauce making when you incorporate raw eggs into a hot dish.

To give this soup more of a chucky texture, the first batch of corn is blended and the second batch is not. To process the first batch, I’ve used a hand-held immersion blender, which is a great kitchen tool. A blender or a food processor will both work just fine.

Maque Choux Soup
Adapted from Southern Living – makes 6 cups

3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 6 ears)
1 medium-size orange bell pepper, chopped
Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
4 cups of chicken broth, divided into 2 cups each
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons plain white cornmeal
Few dashes of Tabasco, or other hot sauce
Fresh squeezed lime juice to taste
Toppings: cooked bacon, fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, fresh lime juice, and a few cooked corn kernels

Stir together the corn and peppers. Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add a little olive oil to the skillet and cooking in two batches, add half of the corn & pepper mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes or until the vegetables begin to char. Transfer the first batch to a 4-qt saucepan.

Add remaining corn & pepper mixture to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes or until vegetables begin to char. Stir in cumin and coriander, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 or 3 more minutes or until fragrant. Set aside the second batch, but save a few of the nicely charred corn kernels for a garnish.

Add 2 cups of broth to the corn mixture in the saucepan. Stir, then process with a handheld blender for 1 to 2 minutes, or until smooth. Add the second batch of the corn mixture and the remaining 2 cups of broth to the saucepan. Bring to a light boil over medium heat, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, hot sauce, and lime juice to taste.

In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the sour cream and cornmeal, then whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot soup (this is called tempering). Then add that mixture to hot soup and simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Garnish and serve right away.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, and Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper.

Have a great weekend everyone. 
Happy Labor Day to those who live in the States.


  1. Initially, I though you were piqued about something while cooking!! Beautiful soup and sounds delicious--just not today as it is in the high 90s!!


  2. It sounds like a delicious soup! I am loving this little bit of sunny cooler weather. Just glad the rain has stopped.

  3. A wonderful soup! I also tough that you got angry while cooking...



  4. I bet I would like this..
    I had never heard of it sam..thanks! Ah yes tempering..I've cooked eggs w/out tempering!:) Many things we do when we don't know..
    Your flower border along the fence is charming.I don't want this summer to end either.
    Love fall but I know what comes after.

  5. As with many of your dishes, this old country boy has not heard of this one but it sounds like an outstanding way to put some fresh sweet corn to use and based on the seasonings in it, I know I'd enjoy it a lot.

  6. A great soup, Sam. So creamy that I thought there were potatoes in it. I love my hand-held immersion blender...it makes life so much easier.

  7. what a lovely soup and hope we still have plenty of pumpkins J is crazy about them

  8. Saying goodbye to summer is easy for me...I look forward to the cooler days of autumn.

    Beautiful cajun soup. Soups is one of my favorite meals to eat because they are so soulful.


  9. I love corn in all kind of shape and size, so I will be sure enjoying this coup, especially with all the spices in it...
    Have a wonderful week Sam :D

  10. I heave heard of this soup but never had the opportunity to try it. With con still in season it is perfect. My favourite time of year is fall but I would't rush along the summer. There is still so much to enjoy I hope.

  11. Wonderful soup and it takes advantage of the seasonal corn. Great for a little chill in the air kinda of day.

  12. I am so ready for fall and I am ready for this soup! My black-eyed susans have gone crazy this year with all the rain!

  13. I'll bet this is a very flavorful soup! I make a ton of soups but for some reason corn has never been the star ingredient... Might need to change that! Happy Labor Day Weekend Sam-enjoy:@)

  14. What a delicious soup - there's a change in the temp here too - perfect for such a lovely dish as this!
    Mary x

  15. This recipe is new to me, but sounds silky and delicious. Autumn has retreated here, and it felt like summer again today. But I am looking forward to the apples!

  16. What a wonderful soup, Sam! I can't wait to try it when cooler temps arrive!

  17. We would love this soup! It is a must try as it cools down. Pinning....

  18. What a great soup to make, esp. when it gets cooler here. Love those Black-Eyed Susans! Pretty, pretty and summery!

  19. I looked at the picture of your basil – it is so healthy. Ours received so much rain that it became tall and the leaves got dark – the first year this happened. Your soup looks good – I’d like to go to Louisiana and try it. Happy Labor Day to you too – hope you’ll have nice weather.

  20. Dear Sam, This is a terrific soup. Flavorful with a little spice. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  21. HI Sam, This is a delicious soup! I appreciate that you took the time to explain what "temper" means in the culinary language. Love your sunflowers! Beautiful garden! Have a great Labor Day weekend!

  22. What a lovely recipe, Sam. It looks delicious and your instructions make it easy to do. Can't beat that. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  23. Our Indian summer has just started, though I could eat soup year-round. It sounds so savory, and comforting. I'd love some of this.

  24. Sam this soup sounds incredible. I've made Maque Choux several times but never as a soup. Thanks so much for this recipe. I must give it a try.

  25. I love Cajun flavors and sweet Colorado corn is at its peak right now, so it will be a perfect time for me to make this soup, Sam. The days are still very warm here but the evening has anew chill to the air that tells me autumn will soon be here!

  26. I will be so sorry to see the tomato season come to an end. I particularly enjoy the peaches and corn this time of year as well. I'll have time to make at least one pot of this lovely soup, Sam. I can imagine how fresh and bright the flavors must be. The tempering step is essential to many recipes and I know personally the results of trying to speed it up...scrambled eggs. Have a very happy Labor Day.

  27. Hi Sam,
    Your flowers along the fence line are so pretty, warm and welcoming. It is a perfect time of the year to make a pot of Maque Choux, with wonderful fresh veggies, it looks delicious.

    Thank you so much for sharing your awesome recipe with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you have had a great weekend and have a fabulous week.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  28. Is there anything better than corn in August? I remember it so well from Michigan days. (Can you still find bantam corn anyplace? It was our favorite.)
    Your Maque Choux Soup looks delicious, Sam.
    (There's no nip in the air down here! September is often the hottest month for south Fl. Keeping my finger crossed the dry air continues to hold off hurricanes. This is the first August in ages in the Caribbean we haven't had to contend with one.)

  29. i love how you combined two different batches to create that amazing looking texture! I would love this for dinner tonight! Delicious

  30. I would love this soup! I'll have to try it. The corn here this year is wonderful and I have peppers in my garden. Yummy, Sam!!!!

  31. As always, I'm sure I need to make this. (We had your fresh corn cakes and red pepper relish for supper tonight!)

  32. Shame on me, i thought all cajun dish used "instant cajun mixture seasoning",
    i love the way you put the kick'in spice in the recipe, especially you using the scratch spice

  33. This looks so good, I love all the flavors you've got going on. I'm so in the mood for soup these days! This seems like a great way to welcome Fall!

  34. I fell in love with maque choux years ago when a Cajun friend gave me her recipe. The idea of using it in a soup is fantastic, I can't wait to try this!

  35. What a fantastic recipe! ...Thanks for the easy guide.


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