Sidney Poitier's Corn and Okra Soup with Lobster
6 ears fresh Florida corn
2 small live lobsters, each weighing about 1 1/4 pounds
2 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or bacon fat)
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 clove garlic, pressed
1 green pepper, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups liquid (water, clam juice)
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1 bay leaf
1 whole red pepper
1/2 pound okra, chopped
1/2 pound scallops
1/2 pound jumbo shrimp, deveined, cut in half
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove husks and silk from corn. Cut kernels off cob (makes about 4 cups); set aside. Heat water and salt to boiling point in large kettle. Add lobsters; return to boiling point. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Remove lobsters; set aside to cool. Reserve lobster stock. Heat oil (or bacon fat) in large stock pot; saute onion, garlic, green pepper, celery and thyme leaves in oil (or bacon fat) until vegetables are limp.
Add tomatoes, cook and stir over low fire until tomatoes become mushy. Add lobster stock, about 2 more cups liquid (water or clam juice), carrots, bay leaf, red pepper; cover and cook 15-20 minutes. Remove lid. Add okra, reserved corn, scallops, shrimp, salt, pepper to taste; cook 10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove lobster meat from shell, cut into bite-size pieces, add to soup just before serving. Serve alone or with hot buttered Johnny cake.
Thoughts: Sidney's soup, known simply as "okra soup" in the Bahamas, is made in many ways. Traditionally, conch and crabs are used for the soup (but they are sometimes difficult to obtain in the U.S.) with a medley of fresh vegetables, ranging from cassava, yams, potatoes and cabbage, to snap beans. Fresh thyme from the branch are added to the soup and corn on the cob is cut in quarters and thrown in the pot. Leftover chicken can be added. American cooks may substitute hard-shell crabs for lobster. If desired, add about 2 cups canned or frozen crab or lobster meat and just before serving, heat through. Chicken broth gives soup a wonderful flavor, complementing the corn and okra. Either Bahamian or American style, the Poitier soup is hearty and delicious.