Fall seems to really be upon us this time. No more summery teasers, just cooler air and grayer skies and scattered showers, and for me anyway, an intense desire to make soup. A desire bordering, of course, upon obsession. Lately I have not wanted to eat anything else, and so all week long, it's all soup, all the time. Of course, I write these words on a Monday and so far, it's only been two days of soup. Yesterday it was lentil vegetable for dinner (and this morning for breakfast too), tonight's dinner (and surely tomorrow's breakfast or lunch): mushroom barley with homemade mushroom stock. Tomorrow night it's going to be Middle Eastern Spinach Soup from Mollie Katzen's Still Life with Menu cookbook, and the next night, Deborah Madison's Parsnip Carrot Soup from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
All along, so far, the magic bonus ingredient has been herb butter that I hastily whipped up last week with some leftover thai basil, dill and shallots that I had laying around. And I'm reminded of what a wonderful staple this is to have in your pantry - or rather, freezer. I haven't only used it in soup recently. Over the weekend I fried and egg in it - what a way to elevate your basic average fried egg on toast to something sophisticated and elegant!
I highly recommend you make yourself a slab of herb butter next time you have some leftover herbs wanting to feel completely loved. It's easy - bring a stick of butter (I prefer unsalted) to room temperature. Once it's nice & soft, blend some finely diced herbs into it using a rubber spatula - 2 to 2 1/2 T. is a good amount, and if you are so inclined, you can add some finely diced shallot and grated lemon zest, along with a light sprinkling of salt.
Once the herbs and enhancements have been blended into the butter, smear the whole lot of it onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper and shape into a roll. Throw it in the freezer and when frozen, cut it into slices and store the slices in a glass or plastic container, taking out a slice or two to use as needed.
Just think: herb butter melting into a mountain of garlic mashed potatoes or a steaming squash biscuit or creamy scrambled eggs or a hot pot of stew or freshly steamed root vegetables....I'm sure you get the picture and I bet you have dishes of your own that are crying out for a little herb butter love, so bring 'em on!
I'm thinking the cold weather season is going to be a whole lot easier to stand as long as I've got lots of soup and lots of herb butter.