5.31.2006

Soup Duo Jour

A quart of buttermilk costs 1.25 at the grocery store. After using one cup for coffeecake, and one and a quarter cups for cinnamon rolls, that left me with one and three-quarters cups, approximately sixty cents' worth of buttermilk, and a burning desire to use up the remainder. I was determined that whatever I did, it would (a) not be a sweet or baked good, having just made plenty of that and (b) not require buying more buttermilk, as it defeats the purpose.
Buying other ingredients to go with that remaining buttermilk seemed to suit me just fine, which is slightly absurd as it completely eradicates any sort of frugality to the gesture, but I've never been very good at math or at being practical. Especially when it comes to grocery stores.
Eliminating baked goods and other buttermilk-based sweets left me with some basic options of ranch dressing, buttermilk mashed potatoes, buttermilk fried chicken, or soups. The weather being warm as it is, I turned my attention to the chilled soup section and found two recipes that would just about finish the quart off. The pea soup recipe is actually meant to be served hot, but left to cool to a bit above warm it's delicious and not stifling. On an even better note, that recipe could be modeled entirely out of on-hand kitchen ingredients, leaving me feeling justified to spend money on fresh herbs and more tomatoes for the second recipe. Overall, frugal it isn't, but tasty indeed.

FRESH PEA SOUP

adapted from Gourmet via Epicurious
3/4 c chopped onion
2 tsp unsalted butter
3 c frozen peas
2 1/2 c chicken broth
~1/2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
herbs of your liking (recommended: basil, thyme, dill)
1/3 c buttermilk
~ 1 tsp lemon juice

In a saucepan cook onion in butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until tender. Add peas and broth and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or so. Stir in tarragon and other herbs.
Using a blender (a stick blender works wonders) puree soup until fairly evenly smooth. Heat soup until hot, if you've let it cool, and remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in the buttermilk. Stir in lemon juice to taste. Correct seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and more herbs to taste.
Yield: about 1 quart

CHILLED CREAM OF TOMATO SOUP
adapted from Just Like Grandma Used to Make

2 lbs very ripe beefsteak or plum tomatoes, rubbed with olive oil or sprayed with cooking spray and halved
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 c chicken stock
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
several sprigs fresh parsley or maybe ~1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 F. Place tomatoes on a greased or well-sprayed baking pan and bake 30 minutes, turning tomatoes every 10 minutes until the skins loosen. Allow to cool, peel and discard skins, reserving pulp and juice.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan and saute onion on low heat until soft, about 6 minutes. Add stock and herbs; simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove sprigs of herbs and add tomato pulp and juices. Allow soup to cool and puree (the stick blender also helps here). Stir in buttermilk and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Serve well chilled (I'd recommend making the soup the night before and letting sit overnight in the fridge, both to chill and meld flavors).


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