Friday, May 1, 2009

Buttermilk Soup

'Buttermilk soup' may not stir up a mouthwatering image for many. How about Kærnemælk Koldskaal? Still nothing? Oh well. In our house, it's one of the dishes that we eat every year, but not year-round. Buttermilk Soup is something my family always looks forward to welcoming back in the spring.

The soup is made with nothing but buttermilk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and lemon (rind and juice). Whipped to a froth, it's chilled until suppertime, when you top it with butter-and-sugar-enriched oats.

The oat topping is made by melting butter (a lot), adding sugar (a fair amount) and then toasting oats in it. Kind of like granola. But you'd be pushing it to consider it a breakfast (though your kids might try to convince you).

There's a small window of time when Meyer lemons are still available in stores (or on the trees of visiting Californians) and the days are heating up, that is perfect for buttermilk soup. Today is that window. I wouldn't exactly call it hot--with a little luck we'll get to 70 today--but I won't have Meyer lemons much longer, and buttermilk soup is especially good with them.

I first ate Buttermilk Soup 30 years ago, as an exchange student on a Danish dairy farm. My family had pretty fawn-colored Jersey cows, whose milk had an exceptionally high fat content. I'd been a nonfat milk drinker, but quickly adjusted to drinking large quantities of the creamy milk--I never looked back. In the summer, my host mother made Kærnemælk Koldskaal. This refreshing dish was usually served as an after-school snack; sometimes it was a light dessert. I believe many Danes eat it (ate it?) as a light supper.

View Larger Map

Now I usually make it for a dessert on a hot day. But I've been known to serve it for supper.

A couple weeks ago at the farmer's market, I came across Jacob's Creamery's stand, offering local Jersey milk. That next week I received a twitter from the market, reminding me to order buttermilk. What could I do?

Their buttermilk, incidentally, is delicious. It seems to keep its frothiness long after it's shaken up.

And the recipe, for any brave souls who would like a light, satisfying supper.

Buttermilk Soup
serves 4 for supper, 6 for dessert
adapted from The Art of Scandinavian Cooking by Nika Hazelton

3 eggs
juice and rind of 1 lemon (a Meyer lemon is especially nice!)
5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 quart buttermilk

  • Beat the eggs well
  • Add the lemon juice and rind, sugar, and vanilla to eggs, and beat until pale and fluffy
  • Whip the buttermilk until frothy (I often just shake the carton vigorously)
  • Slowly beat buttermilk into egg mixture
  • Chill until serving
Traditionally the soup is served with oatcakes, but sometimes also with whipped cream. Newer recipes suggest such things as crumbled biscotti or amaretti cookies. I imagine crumbled gingersnaps might be nice. But I especially like the oat topping.

Oat Topping

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups oats

  • Melt butter
  • Stir in sugar
  • Stir in oatmeal
  • Fry over medium heat until oatmeal is golden brown.
If you want to be fancy, you can pack the mixture into moistened custard cups, and chill. I prefer to not be fancy. We just put the pan of oat topping on the table, and let people load up their bowls.
Print post as text only


Thérèse said...

Sorry I missed it! Will have to look for some good buttermilk down here and give it a try.

Grace said...

Mmm, Karnemelk! People drink that so much more here - what's up with that semi-negative stigma we have about buttermilk in the US? Some of my housemates buy it regularly and drink it straight.

Giovanna said...

Thérèse, we'll make you some when you visit in the hot hot summer.

Grace, I tried a small glass of the buttermilk I got at the market--it was really delicious. It is funny that people eat plain yogurt all the time (okay, not everyone, but still--many!) but wouldn't dream of drinking a glass of buttermilk.

Scott said...

Sounds really good!

I make a soup of buttermilk, strawberries, some sugar, a bit of cinnamon, all whizzed together in a good blender. Strain that through a sieve to get rid of any berry seeds. Then you start whisking in some nice, fruity zinfandel. You can add a fair amount of wine, just keep tasting.

Very delicious, very refreshing.

Giovanna said...

Interesting, Scott--but trickier to rationalize eating the leftovers for breakfast! (though I'm sure I could make a case...)

Barbra said...

I also prefer not to be fancy. This sounds delicious.

Giovanna said...

Barbra--I just had a look at 'Serve It Forth' and found another wonderful buttermilk dish--the panna cotta with rhubarb compote . I'm looking forward to making it soon.

Related Posts with Thumbnails