10 medium ears of corn, husks and silk removed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces lean bacon, finely diced
1 organic celery rib, finely diced
½ cup finely diced onion
½ cup finely diced organic yellow bell pepper
3 cups whole milk
1-½ cups heavy cream
Pinch cayenne pepper
¼ cup sour cream
1 jalapeno chili, halved, stemmed, seeded, and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus extra whole leaves for garnish
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground white pepper
Set a box grater in a wide, shallow bowl. Holding each ear of corn firmly and carefully keeping your fingers well clear of the grater’s surface, coarsely grate the kernels from 6 ears; you should have about 2 cups of grated corn.
Hold a sharp knife in your dominant hand. With the other hand, hold the stem end of one of the remaining 4 ears of corn, and balance its other end on a cutting board with the ear at a 45-degree angle. Cutting very carefully down and away, with the knife almost parallel to the ear, cut off the kernels several rows at a time, rotating the ear slightly after each cut. Repeat with the remaining ears. You should have about 2 cups of whole kernels.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the bacon, celery, onion, and bell pepper. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the grated corn, the milk, and 1 cup of the heavy cream, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook uncovered, stirring often, until the soup has thickened, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and the cayenne pepper and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Season with a little salt. Stir the cooked corn into the soup and keep warm.
In a blender, whip the remaining ½ cup of heavy cream to soft peaks, about 20 seconds. Add the sour cream, jalapeno, chopped cilantro, and lemon juice and blend until thick. Season with salt and white pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Add a generous dollop of jalapeno cream, garnish with cilantro leaves, and serve immediately.