Corn & Cumin Soup with Chicken & Roast Red Pepper

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

Sweetcorn is now grown in many Mediterranean countries, though it is rarely eaten on the cob. Polenta - maize porridge and originally the food of the poor - is an obvious, if ancient, example of the way it is used. The widespread use of corn as animal feed has further helped project a rather downtrodden image.

This recipe uses fresh sweetcorn, cut from the cob and flavoured with roast cumin seeds, though you could use frozen corn instead. Chicken breasts and red peppers are pan-grilled separately and only cut into strips and added just before serving.

A pretty and appropriate garnish is blue corn chips, which come from the USA and can now be found in better delicatessens and some food shops.


  • 1 red sweet pepper
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 450 g/1 lb fresh corn (about 6 ears)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf (optional)
  • 1.1 litres/2 pt light chicken stock
  • salt and pepper

To Garnish

  • coriander leaves
  • few blue corn chips (optional)



Blister the pepper on the end of a fork over a flame on the hob, on a preheated hot ridged grill pan or under a preheated hot grill. When cool enough to handle, peel, deseed and reserve.

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry heavy pan over the lowest flame for 3 minutes and then grind to a powder.

Cut away the corn from the cobs and reserve. Peel and dice the onion. Peel and thinly slice the garlic.


Fry the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Stir in the garlic with the cumin.

Season chicken breasts and fry in a dry non-stick frying pan over a fairly low heat, turning occasionally. They take about 10-12 minutes and when done will feel quite firm when pressed with a finger. Let them rest in a warm place.

Add the corn and a lime leaf, if available, to the onions and cover with the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer until the corn is just tender, which will take anything from 5 to 10 minutes depending on the type of corn.

Taste, and when the texture is to your liking, season with salt and pepper.


Slice the chicken and peppers into strips and divide between 4 large soup bowls. Ladle on the corn broth and scatter with a few corn chips, if using, and some whole coriander leaves.

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