Before 2012 ended, there was a get-together with Speedy’s side of the family at my in-laws’ house. Over food and drinks, Speedy’s youngest brother, Richie, started bantering about when we would host another get-together in our house in the boondocks. We used to have the Veneracion family get-togethers here until my mother-in-law became too sickly to go out. Richie is in the country only once a year and it sure was a good reason to invite him and the rest of the brood over. So, we agreed that we’d party again before he left.
That happened earlier today. Speedy’s two younger brothers and their lovely ladies came over for a potluck lunch — with my mother-in-law! She rarely goes out these days so today was really an occasion, something to look back to with a smile. We had a great time even though it was only for a few hours.
I suppose it was only fitting that our share in the potluck should be something nostalgic. At that party before the New Year, there was a whole lechon and I asked to bring home the head. I boiled the head, shredded the meat, saved the broth and froze everything until we could set a date for the planned get-together. For our potluck lunch earlier today, I made a soup that my late father-in-law used to cook for the whole brood — a white corn and vegetables soup using the meat and broth from the lechon head.
Native white corn is a cooking corn. If cooked as corn on the cob, it takes more than a hour to fully cook. It is ideal for cooking when the kernels are sliced off the cob. When slow cooked with meat as a soup dish, the soup is thick, sticky and full of flavor.
To slice the kernels off the cob, remove the skin and hair of the corn. Hold it upright and slice the kernels from top to bottom, rotating the cob until all sides have been sliced (like this). To shorten the cooking time and to cook a thicker and richer soup dish, do not slice the kernels whole. Slice them as though you were grating them coarsely. Alternatively, you can use a vegetable grater or a peeler. Personally, I prefer not to because the juices are lost during the grating.
Now, about the pork. I cooked this soup with lechon but you don’t have to. You can use pork belly or shoulder. If starting with raw meat, it is best to cook it together with the corn.
Recipe: White corn and vegetables soup
- 2 tbsp. of cooking oil
- 2 red onions, halved and sliced thinly
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 c. of freshly sliced white corn kernels
- 8 t0 12 c. of good quality broth
- 2 c. of shredded lechon or 500 g. of pork belly or shoulder cut into one-inch cubes
- 2 eggplants
- 5-6 pcs. of okra
- 1 bunch of talbos ng kamote (sweet potato shoots), rinsed
- patis (fish sauce) or salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the cooking oil in a thick-bottomed casserole.
- Saute the onion until lightly caramelized. Add the garlic. Continue sauteing for a minute. If using raw pork, this is the part where you add the pork pieces. Cook them until no longer pink before proceeding to the next step.
- Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the corn kernels. Season with patis or salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer for about two hours until the corn kernels are very tender. Note that you have to stir and scrape the bottom of the casserole occasionally because some of the corn may stick to the bottom. If the mixture appears too thick, add more broth, about a cup each time. Adjust the seasonings too from time to time.
- While the corn is cooking, pick the leaves of the talbos ng kamote and discard the stalks.
- Rinse and trim the squash blossoms (see tips).
- Cut off both tips of the okra and slice each piece into one-inch lengths.
- Halve the eggplants lengthwise; cut each half into bite-size pieces.
- When the corn is tender, add the eggplants and okra (this is the part when I added the shredded lechon). Continue cooking over low heat for five minutes.
- Add the squash blossoms; cook for another five minutes.
- Add the talbos ng kamote leaves and stir, making sure that all the leaves are submerged in liquid. Cover and turn off the heat. Leave for another three minutes. Serve hot.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: about 2 hours and 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8 to 10
Updated from a recipe originally published on August 2, 2003.