Corn Soup Recipe

A simple corn soup topped with an electric harissa-yogurt swirl + photos from a walk around North Beach on the Fourth of July.

Corn Soup

My heart broke a little the other night as I pulled a heavy wool coat from my closet. After fifteen summers in San Francisco, I know with absolute certainty I'll be cold at some point during Fourth of July fireworks. This year was as good as it gets though - warm daytime weather all weekend, and clear skies for the festivities. I only complained about being cold once all night. Holiday weekend highlights? This bowl of corn soup topped with harissa yogurt, and a walk around North Beach with my camera before watching the fireworks from underneath Coit Tower. Pics below.

Corn Soup Recipe

People were out in full force in the parks - picnic blankets, dogs zipping here and there, Frisbees, bikes, and boom boxes. The eventual sunset was stunning enough that I mentioned to Wayne that fireworks would just be a bonus. And after sunset, people clustered on the north-facing hillsides all across the city to watch the sky light up. It was a good night out, and made me happy to be bundled up in San Francisco.

Corn Soup Recipe

A couple more words about the corn soup. The harissa-yogurt swirl is one way I like to enjoy this soup. But there is typically a progression when I make a pot of corn soup like this. I enjoy the first small bowl straight, properly seasoned, and finished with little dabs of butter and a touch of homemade celery salt. This way, it's all about the corn. Then I'll move onto more adventurous toppings like this one, the harissa yogurt, for seconds and leftovers. It's a soup that's also great topped with feta and dill, or any number of compound butters. Make a pot, and play around a bit. If you can imagine it goes well with corn, work it into a topping, and see how it goes.

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Corn Soup with Harissa Yogurt

I like this soup just like this, but if you're looking to make more of a meal of it - try serving over a bit of hot farro or barley. Or alternately, topped with a poached egg and sprinkled with toasted, sliced almonds.

6 ears corn, husks removed
7 cups / 1.65 liters water

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice

4 medium shallots, chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
freshly ground pepper

plain yogurt, harissa, and fresh dill, to serve

Start by bringing the water to a boil in a large pot. While it is heating use a knife to cut the kernels from the cobs of corn, reserving them in a bowl. Take the cobs and place them in the water. Let them simmer there into a stock/broth while you're prepping the rest of the ingredients, ideally 15-30 minutes. Remove the cobs from the broth when you're ready to use it.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, stir until they are well-coated, add a big pinch of salt, and saute until the potatoes are cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. When the potatoes are nearly cooked, add the shallots and garlic.

Add this mixture, along with the corn kernels and the salt, to the corn broth. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes. I like this soup a bit chunky, so I remove about half of the soup while I puree the rest, then stir the reserves chunky portion back in - combining smooth/chunky in the end. Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper, to your liking.

Serve dolloped with a bit of plain yogurt, salted, then swirled with a spoonful of harissa paste. And a sprinkling of fresh, chopped dill.

Serves 4.

Prep time: 15 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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This was very tasty! I didn't have shallots or harissa on hand, so I used one cooking onion and swirled in some chipotle-adobo puree. Next time I'll reduce the water to 5 or 6 cups.


After picking the last of the green beans from my garden, I cut them into pieces and added them to the leftover soup along with some great northern beans, and it was very summery and delicious!

Erin Ave

This was the first 4th of July in perhaps seven years that I stayed in San Francisco, and I'm glad I did. What a weekend! This soup is perfect for our chilly summers.


I made this last night, and I used adobo sauce instead of harissa in the yogurt. I thought if Mexican cuisine puts corn and adobo together all the time, why shouldn't I? And it was the best. Soup. Ever. My husband and I gave each other those meaningful I'm-going-to-hide-the-rest-of-this-from-you looks that we only give each other when I perform a miracle in the kitchen. No offense to you, Heidi, you are a goddess, but I don't think I'm even going to try it with harissa - I use harissa a lot elsewhere, but rarely find a place for adobo, and this was the PERFECT place.


The home-made corn broth is a nice touch!

Dr. Sarah Cimperman

Your soup looks delicious! Can't wait to try it when the corn is ready (it is oh so close here!). I think it would be especially delicious if the corn were roasted... Perhaps in the oven/ on a grill while the cobs are doing their broth magic!


You sound like me... so sensitive to the cold. But we really did luck out with the weather this July 4th. So glad you had such a wonderful time (btw, the soup looks marvelous)!

Brian @ A Thought For Food

I made this with a friend last night with ingredients from my CSA in Philadelphia and loved it. The corn was sweet and crunchy, and the little red new potatoes I used worked just right. Thanks for sharing so many amazing recipes-both here and in your cookbooks.


I made this last night for myself and three other girlfriends. It looked like a lot of soup at first (we even talked about freezing part of it). Surprise surprise by the end of the night, there was nothing left. Really lovely flawless recipe, easy to follow, few ingredients and the harissa yogurt is just genius. Love you Heidi!


I made a half-batch of the soup for dinner tonight (to use up my three remaining ears of corn) and it was *delicious*. I pureed about half of it and let it cool for about a half hour before we ate, which I think was perfect. I also can't wait to try the poblano topping and adding chopped greens, as mentioned by previous posters, because I will certainly be making this again before fresh corn can no longer be found!


Hi there! This recipe looks great. I do have one question though. Does anyone know a good substitute for garlic? Even very small amounts wreak havoc on my stomach (sad, because I love it so much). I'm looking for something equally bold, though I know it won't replicate the flavor. It could be something that works on its own or a blend of several things. Thanks!


P.S. Your comments about being cold on July 4th reminded me about the times my kids and I would be bundled together on the balcony watching the fireworks down the hill at the fairgrounds in Pocatello, Idaho. Good times, long gone.

David in San Antonio

Your corn soup recipe comes at an apt time, when we have an abundance of it here. Thanks. Also, here's a link to a fascinating film taken from the front of a streetcar in San Francisco just a few days before the earthquake and fire in 1906:

David in San Antonio

That soup looks delicious, can't wait to try it out! It's hard for me to imagine you were chilly over the holiday as I was sweating so bad in a heat advisory of 100+ degrees in the humidity of Kansas... I'll have to wait a few months before trying this out but thanks! Beautiful pictures too. Liz-CoolProducts


Wow! Your photos of the Fourth of July are absolutely STUNNING, and this soup sounds delicious! I've never really had corn in soup before - other than taco soup - so this might be something fun for my husband and I to try when it's not 100+ degrees down here. Thanks for sharing!

Erin @ The Speckled Palate

Fabulous!! I grew up eating corn chowder which I never liked, kept trying it, never liked it. So I really thought I was just going to be repeating the same pattern, though this wasn't chowder. Wow, was I happy to be proven wrong! I definitely did a dance in the kitchen when I tasted it! Thank you!


This soup was fantastic. I added fresh chopped greens as soon as the soup was finished cooking. Yum! I'm up in Maine, and as our local corn and potatoes are ready for harvest, I can't wait to make again (and again and again). Do you make your own harissa or is it store-bought?


Oh I love corn. From Iowa go figure! Will try this one.

laura Bednarski

Thanks for sharing such a lovely "taste" of the 4th in San Francisco! And all your great suggestions of serving up the soup's leftovers. By Day 3 we're usually pretty tired of having the same food again and again, so I try to reheat it with new additions each time.

Lady Amalthea

Made this with squash instead of potatoes (to work through the squash pile from the garden!) and it was amazing. Thanks, as always!


Soup looks amazing and the photos are so cool. Love the fireworks. 4th of July celebrations are so wonderful, I love the traditions that you folk have over there. :) Ha, every morning I suffer as I pull the coat off the coat hanger, it is FREEZING here. I just cant handle it. Not even nice during the day. Sigh!

Anna Johnston

Definitely making this once local corn shows up.


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