When preparing Creamy Corn and Shiitake Mushroom Soup (Sup Bap Nam Huong), Vietnamese cooks, like their northern neighbors, often rely on canned creamed corn, once considered an exotic foreign import in Asia. The velvety sweet-savory result fuses East and West. Here in the States, fresh corn is plentiful, and making this soup with kernels cut from the cob yields bright flavors that aren’t cloying. Neither cornstarch nor egg is needed to create a creamy texture. The natural starch in the corn provides it. Some cooks add a variety of embellishments to the soup, but I prefer to keep it simple, using only sliced shiitake mushrooms for their flavor, texture, and visual appeal.
Make sure you use the sweetest corn possible, whether from your local market or farm stand, fresh or frozen.
Give the soup an earthy Thai edge by adding 4 or 5 Thai lime leaves (sometimes labeled makrut or kaffir leaves) when simmering the corn kernels. Remove and discard the leaves before puréeing.