This soup reminds me of the children's fable "Stone Soup" - making something hearty and satisfying from little. The recipe is an adaptation of one of my mom's recipes, she is one of the thriftiest people I know and will never let something useful go to waste.
The technique is to use corn cobs to make the stock, imparting an intense corn flavor to the soup, and a nice counterpart to the other vegetables. You can freeze fresh corn and corn cobs in the summer to make this soup the winter.
I had this soup in mind this morning, thinking I would raid my freezer stash for the corn and corn cobs. But, at the farmers market I found the season's last three ears of corn -- the kernels gnarly and overgrown -- just perfect for soup.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 small carrots, diced
3 medium red skinned potatoes, peeled and diced
3 ears corn
4 - 5 cups water
1 cup soy or rice milk (optional)
Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Reduce heat to low. Add the three ears of corn to the pot to start the stock. As you peel and dice the vegetables, add the ends and peels to the pot. The trimmings add color and flavor to the stock. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
In a large soup pot, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and saute until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the diced celery and carrots, and saute another 5 minutes. Add the potatoes.
Strain the stock through a colander into the soup pot. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until the potato is almost tender.
While the soup is simmering, cut corn from the corn cobs and set aside. When the potatoes are almost done*, add the corn kernels to the pot and continue to simmer until potatoes are done. Add milk, if desired.
*Sometimes, I puree the soup before adding the corn kernels. The potatoes make the soup nice and thick.