SOUP WITH POPCORN GARNISH. YES.
Ok, so here's what happened. I've been thinking about popcorn with smooth puréed vegetable soups for years. Literally, it occurred to me two or three years ago, but I didn't try it until now. That was a mistake. I could have been eating considerable bowls of spinach soup with popcorn and onion soup with popcorn and sweet potato soup with popcorn for the past three years! And yet I never actually bothered enough to get more than one pan dirty before.
In this case I made carrot soup with white bean broth, which was substantial and yet extremely vegetable-dense and smooth and clean. Bean broth: don't ever throw it out after you cook a pan of beans! Instead, throw it in the freezer and wait until you want to make something like this, then bask in the awesome qualities of the finished product.
Carrot soup with white bean broth
white bean broth/other appropriate broth
(actual white beans if you feel like it)
sage, thyme, salt, pepper
Peel and dice an onion and toss it in a soup pot with some olive oil. Stir it up and let soften while you peel and coarsely chop a few cloves of garlic, then add them to the pot. If you want, you can chop up some hot pepper or celery to add the the business, but if not, that's fine too.
Peel at least three or four good big carrots, more if you're feeding more than two people. Chop them into half-moons and throw them into the pot. Add some sage and thyme, plus a pinch of salt, then stir everything up and let it sweat for a few minutes.
Broth. I had mine in the freezer, as mentioned, so I just popped it out of the container and threw it straight into the pan to melt.
If you have vegetable broth or actual white beans in broth, those should work fine too. The bean broth gives the soup body; vegetable broth will still taste good, but be thinner and have less protein. Just do what you think sounds best.
Let the soup simmer, covered, until the carrots are cooked through, then take it off the heat and purée it. Correct any seasonings and you're done. Keep it warm on very low heat while you make the popcorn on another burner.
Ok, it goes without saying that microwave butter flavored gack will Not be very good with delicately spiced vegetable soup. Pop your corn from scratch in a pan over the flame and you'll get exponentially better results. Here's how I do it. In this circumstance we didn't have any flavorless oil, so I used olive oil and slightly lower heat to pop the corn. Even though olive oil has a lower scorch point, everything turned out fine.
Don't butter or salt the corn; leave it plain for optimal tastiness. All you have to do is put things in bowls and eat them.
Popcorn in soup is crunchy and soft and melting and tastes intensely like corn all at once. If you bury it in the soup the texture changes and gets spongy, but it's still pleasing as long as you eat it relatively quickly. John and I sat around putting new handfuls of popcorn in our bowls over and over as we ate the previous bits, which worked admirably. I would totally recommend serving individual bowls of both popcorn and soup, equally full. Imagine what a little kid would think of a dinner like that! It would be the most ideal dinner ever.