A Winter Warmer-upper

Feb 21, 2017

Nothing is better on a chilly February day than a warm bowl of soup.

Credit Justin Fox Burks


My friend Bob Sternburgh, owner of Paradise Café in East Memphis, serves up some of the most delicious … and interesting … soups I have ever had. 

“I take old classic recipes and like Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Tetrazzini, Chicken Kiev, Lasagna … and I’ll turn them into a soup.”

“I also get inspiration from sandwiches … like a Reuben Sandwich or a BLT.”

A Reuben Soup you may ask?  Bob basically uses the key ingredients of these classic dishes and sandwiches to transform them into a soup.

“Caraway seeds, rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, and a thin béchamel sauce will make a great Reuben Chowder.”

Sometimes it’s the toppings that help make the soup.

“One of the crazier soups that I make is a BLT Soup … made with bacon-flavored béchamel sauce and its topped at the last minute with fresh lettuce, fresh diced tomatoes, and croutons.”

Bob has even come up with a signature soup for our hometown … Memphis Chowder.

“It’s made with white beans, black eyed peas, turnip greens, smoked sausage, carrots, celery, onions and it’s topped with cornbread.”

One of my favorite soups Bob serves at Paradise Café is his Buttermilk and Cornbread Soup. I have to admit Bob had to talk me in to trying it the first time. But now I’m hooked! This silky soup has a lightly tangy buttermilk flavor that is perfectly contrasted by the sweet cornbread croutons floating on top.

So don’t be afraid to experiment with giving your favorite dishes a makeover … they may make a great soup!

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

For more information about Paradise Café, visit www.paradisecafememphis.com.

Sweet Cornbread and Buttermilk Soup

When I first tasted this soup at Paradise Café in Memphis, Tennessee, I wanted the recipe.  This silky soup has a lightly tangy buttermilk flavor that is perfectly contrasted by the sweet cornbread croutons floating on top.  Thank you Bob and Betty Sternburgh for graciously sharing the recipe.

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced celery (1 stalk)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion (half a small onion)
  • 3/4 cup corn kernels, thawed if using frozen
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pan skillet cornbread, cut into 1-inch pieces

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, place the stock, celery, onion, and corn. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower the temperature to medium and simmer uncovered until the flavors have melded, about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the soup and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until thickened to the consistency of pancake batter, about 3 minutes. Add the sour cream and buttermilk and whisk to combine.  Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle the warm soup in bowls and place several pieces of cornbread on top.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: A slurry made with cornstarch and water is a simple way to thicken just about any sauce.  The rule of thumb is for each cup of sauce you would like to thicken, to mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water.  The major difference between a slurry and a roux is that a roux is begun at the start of cooking the dish while a slurry is added at the end.

Printed with permission from The Southern Pantry Cookbook by Jennifer Chandler.