Cream of Corn Soup with Crayfish Butter

When I found this soup in The Epicurean, the cookbook of Delmonico’s restaurant in turn-of-the-century New York, it triggered the idea to stop looking slavishly at France for inspiration and to find it around me in California. My interest in American regional cooking, and the California movement, began—story told. The original recipe calls for “green” or very young corn, but I find the best corn to use is the newer white corn, with small kernels that are just formed. If you don’t have crayfish essence, use lobster or shrimp essence, or a fresh basil or ancho chili cream.


  • 8 ears fresh young corn
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup crayfish or shellfish essence
  • cups heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


Shuck the corn, remove all the silk from the ears, and slice downward on the ears between the husk and the kernels to remove the kernels without getting any of the husk.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the corn, marjoram, and a few tablespoons of the stock. Cover and sweat over very low heat for 5 minutes. Boil the remaining stock and pour over the corn. Bring the corn back to the boil and remove from the heat. As soon as it is cool enough to handle, puree it through the fine-mesh disk of a food mill or in a food processor; then press it through a sieve to get a fine puree.

Whip the crayfish essence and ½ cup of the cream in a bowl to soft peaks.

When you are ready to serve, reheat the corn puree with the remaining cream. Check the seasoning and pour into soup plates. Spoon the shellfish cream on the center of the soup.