To help Meg while she creates a new routine with the baby, I’ve been busy cooking up a storm. I want to leave her freezer stocked with hearty soups, Italian pasta sauces, lasagnas and chillies so she doesn’t have to worry about preparing meals for a few weeks. I, also, love the idea that I’m still helping even though I’ll be thousands of miles away.
Theo loves soups that are chock-a-block full of chunky vegetables and any kind of meat. Meggie, on the other hand, prefers creamier, simpler soups. In trying to please them both, I’ve made the Silver Palate girls BAKED GARLIC AND ONION CREAM SOUP for dinner tonight.. During the eighties, while I was living in New York City, the Silver Palate store on the upper west side was a constant inspiration for me. This soup became my dinner party signature ‘starter’.
The cooking technique is more a braise than a bake because of the addition of chicken stock to the roasting pan. The garlic and onion lose their pungency for a rich, mellow flavor. The thyme adds a lovely woodsy over tone that works perfectly with the heavy cream. I use fresh thyme rather than dried and buttermilk rather than cream. I find dried thyme a little musty tasting where the fresh thyme has a brilliant clean flavor. The only reason I don’t use cream is because of the calories. If I was entertaining, I would absolutely use cream but both are tasty.
Hold the boat! While I was getting ready to take my last shots, Theo said, “do you have to add cream or milk to the soup?”
Would you prefer I didn’t?
My cream soup turned into a thick garlicky soup au gratin. It was delicious so I’ve included both recipes.
BAKED GARLIC AND ONION CREAM SOUP – slightly adapted from The New Basics Cook Book
Preheat oven 350*F
5 large sweet white onions, cut into eighths
2 heads of garlic, peeled
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 tablespoons butter
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups buttermilk
- Place the onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper in a large roasting pan.
- Dot with butter and pour 3 cups of the chicken stock over the vegetables.
- Cover roasting pan and place in preheated oven for 1 ½ hours.
- Remove from oven and puree with an immersion blender or your food processor*
- Add the additional stock and buttermilk to the pureed soup and heat thoroughly over medium high heat.
- Serve immediately
*If you’re using your food processor to puree the soup, work in small drained batches. Otherwise, you’ll have a mess all over your counter!
THE LOVE: If you would like to freeze this soup, wait until you are ready to serve it before adding the cream or buttermilk. The original recipe calls for whipping cream instead of buttermilk. If you want a splurge, the whipping cream is outrageously delicious On the other hand, the buttermilk is tasty and low fat. You decided!
Being with Meg and Theo as they worked to bring their child into this world, was the most breathtaking journey of my life. The private moments that led to the birth of their son are, forever, etched in my heart. When the kids invited me to be present for Coen’s birth I was thrilled. As her due date approached, my excitement turned to concern. As natural as child-birth is, there are so many things that can go wrong. I wasn’t sure how I would react if Meggie got into trouble. I didn’t want Theo’s or Meg’s, for that matter, memory of their first child’s birth scarred with crazy mother-in-law moments. I was keenly aware of my role and my place in that delivery room. Although it was my child having the baby, the baby is theirs and he, now, comes first. Interesting how the universe has a way of simplifying order, if we’re open to it.
For months, my friends have been saying things like, ‘wait until you hold that child’ or ‘you’re not going to believe how you’ll feel’. They were right. From the moment Theo placed Coen in my arms, my world shifted. I am completely smitten and have no intentions of ever recovering.
Thanks for reading.