Today the family had lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, a soup and salad bar restaurant. It’s usually pretty standard fare, but today they had something out of the ordinary — at least I’d never seen it before.
The restaurant boasts 8 freshly-made soups daily:
Not that I am going to hold them to the promise of 8 soups, but today they only had 7 soups and a bucket of stuffing. Yes, stuffing. On the soup bar. Diners were encouraged to add a scoop of stuffing to their Creamy Herbed Turkey Soup:
Comfort and joy?
Add a scoop of non-vegetarian stuffing to your turkey soup. Why? Why not?
For some reason — maybe the sheer “what the hell” of it — the stuffing in the soup just cracked us up. As I was snapping these photos and kind of making fun of the whole thing, however, the guy next to me was so excited to plop some stuffing in his soup that you could practically the hear the buttons on his shirt popping off.
Next Thanksgiving, when you’re looking for a way to use up leftover stuffing, remember — stuffing goes great in soup!
I found these bangles on ebay. They’re made of bakelite, or polyoxybenzylmethylenglocolanhydride, for the chemistry geeks out there. Bakelite is an early plastic, developed in 1907 by Leo Baekelandl, and has become very collectible. People love bakelite bangles for the distinctive “clunk” they make when tapped together. Kind of like my kids’ heads.
Bakelite comes in a variety of colors, and is often referred to with food names, such as root beer, creamed corn, spinach, peanut butter, and apple juice. When I was a kid, my dad had an old car with a dashboard that I now realize must have been made of bakelite. It looked a lot like this:
My sister and I used to say it looked like Chinese food. I think the dish we were specifically referring to was Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, which was a family favorite back then and is one of the most unappetizing dishes I can think of:
Shrimp with Lobster Sauce. Mmmmm — or not?
Creamed corn, shrimp with lobster sauce, whatever. Anyway, I love bakelite bangles and the warm colors they come in. I even collected them for a while and made desk accessories out of them:
Uh oh, Mom’s got too much time on her hands
I have my own food names for the Christmas-y red and green bangles that have inspired today’s recipe. The green I call Asparagus Soup, and the red is Red Pepper Soup, because they remind me of the soup I have been making on Christmas Eve for over a decade. These two soups are both great on their own, but when poured side by side in a shallow bowl, they are a wonderful and showy start to a holiday meal.
Start by making a batch of Asparagus Soup and a batch of Red Pepper Soup. To serve, you’ll need two 1-cup measuring cups. Fill one cup about 2/3 full with Asparagus Soup and the other 2/3 full with Red Pepper Soup. Pour one soup slowly down one side of a shallow soup bowl while simultaneously pouring the other soup down the opposite side. The soups should meet in the middle of the bowl and notblend together. (The Asparagus Soup is usually the thicker of the two soups and provides a sort of wall against which the Red Pepper Soup rests.) If desired, garnish with a squiggle of sour cream (dilute sour cream with a few teaspoons of water and place in a plastic squeeze bottle or ziploc bag with the corner snipped off).
Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until tender. Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to boil over high heat, then add the asparagus and herbes de Provence. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the asparagus is very tender, approximately 25 minutes. Cool slightly.
Puree the soup in a food processor or blender. (Do not fill the container more than half full -- hot liquids expand when blended, and if container is too full, the lid will blow off and hot soup will splatter everywhere.) Return the soup to the stockpot and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the half and half and cook over medium heat until heated through.
Preheat broiler. Halve peppers lengthwise, discarding stems, sees, and ribs. Place skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until skins are blistered and charred, approximately 8-12 minutes. Transfer peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel peppers and slice into thin strips.
Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until tender. Stir in peppers, broth, and herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Puree the soup in a food processor or blender. (Do not fill the container more than half full -- hot liquids expand when blended, and if container is too full, the lid will blow off and hot soup will splatter everywhere.) Return the soup to the stockpot and add tarragon and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the half and half and cook over medium heat until heated through.
Slowly pour the two soups down the side of the shallow bowl