After a harvest day, we would tirelessly peel off the husks from the white lagkitan corn variety. Intermittently, we would grill some corn as merienda over a pile of embers. Then at the end of the day, warm bowls of suam on balmy nights in my lolo’s kubo (grandfather’s hut) would fill our bellies.
Suam is a simple sauté of garlic, onions, and corn, then boiled in rice wash and finished with malunggay (moringa leaves), making this soup flavorful. Often, meat, such as pork or chicken, is included but skipped during the Lenten season. Then, grilled fish would be a protein substitute.
Always curious, I am sharing a few of the dish’s roots with you.
suam mais (origin)
Suam na mais (su-àm na ma-ís; Capampangan soup; dw Chin. Hokkien cu am [to cook rice broth]
<cu [to cook] + am [rice broth] + Capampangan mais [corn])
(a.k.a. suam masi or suwam na mais in Capampapangan)
Suam na Mais. Swam na Mais (Capampangan) [n.] corn soup; a garlic and chicken egg soup with grated kernels of young corn, same as Tagalog sinuam na mais
Source: Philippine Food, Cooking & Dining Dictionary by Edgie Polistico
Ingredients for Suam, the Filipino Corn Soup
- Do not skimp on the aromatics. I like using sweet onions and fresh garlic.
- Corn on the cob is best. You can substitute frozen corn kernels or canned ones.
- Although this recipe is meatless, you can add chicken or pork bits after the aromatics to make it heartier.
- Rice water is simply the second rinse or wash of rice. Substitutes can be plain water or broth.
- Greens. Your pick – spinach or kale. I would use moringa, but it’s too early in the season, so I opted for kale from my yard.
Tips on How To Make Suam Filipino Corn Soup
Grating Fresh Corn: I use a paring knife to remove the corn. Then I use the back of the blade to scrape off the remaining corn.
I’ve read grating produces a creamier texture. It is time-consuming but worth it. If you have an immersion blender, you can skip the grating part.
On thicker soup: If you want a thicker soup, mix 3 tbsps cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. Add it to the soup, and let it simmer.
I like to serve this with poached fish.
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Suam Filipino Corn Soup
- 1 tbsp avocado oil or any neutral oil
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 ears corn remove kernels using a knife or grating
- 2-3 cups kale
- 4 cups water or rice water
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Sautè sweet onion until trnaslucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add corn, half of the kale (the tough parts), and bay leaves
- Season with salt and fish sauce.
- Add water, cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Immersion blend (optional)
- Add the rest of the kale.
- Adjust seasoning if needed. Serve.