Corn Cobs | Did You Know…


Did you know … that corn cobs are worth more than mere compost?

After removing the kernels from fresh ears of sweet corn, save the cobs. They make a deliciously sweet golden broth that can replace vegetable or chicken broths that many soup and risotto recipes call for.

My first introduction to corn cob broth came through the Moosewood Daily Special cookbook, which includes the corn chowder recipe below, with a footnote on broth. An investigation via the Internet, however, also turned up numerous websites and food blogs advocating use of spent corn cobs for this purpose. Some recipes also recommend saving the green husks and silky threads from fresh corn for broth-making purposes.

The cobs can be cooked fresh after shelling or frozen for later use. The family-friendly site Cool Mom Eats, for instance, advocates saving about a dozen cobs in order to make a large batch of broth while corn is in season, both for immediate and later use.

The most popular use of corn cob broth is perhaps as a base for corn chowder, as such a broth can only enhance what already is the main ingredient of such a dish. However, you also can use the broth as a base for other soups, as a replacement for chicken stock or vegetable broth in such dishes as risotto, and as a replacement for water in steaming or braising such vegetables as collard greens, kale, potatoes, carrots, and turnips.

And, after you’ve cooked the cobs and strained them out of your stock, add them to your compost heap. They’ll still break down into new fertile soil for future use.


Corn Chowder

(from the Moosewood Daily Special)
Serves 4-6


• 1 cup chopped onion
• 1 tablespoon oil
• 2-1/2 cups diced potatoes
• ½ cup diced celery (as a seasonal substitute, try finely diced kale or collard stems)
• 1 teaspoon dill
• ½ teaspoon thyme
• 3 cups water or corn cob broth (see below)
• 4 cups corn kernels
• 1 cup diced peppers
• 2 cups milk
• salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about 10 minutes.
2. Add potatoes, celery (or greens stems), herbs, and water/stock. Cover and simmer about five minutes, until potatoes start to soften.
3. Add peppers and corn and cook for five minutes.
4. Allow soup to cool slightly, then add milk. Puree with a puree stick (or place soup and milk in blender or food processor and whir until smooth).
5. Add salt and pepper, and gently reheat.

Corn cob broth

• Shelled corn cobs
• 1 cup chopped potato
• 1 chopped celery stalk
• 3 peeled whole garlic cloves
• 10 cups water
• salt and pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients to a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for one hour. Strain and use as stock.

Yield: About 6 cups.