There was never going to be a “good moment” for me to discover that Certain Parties had put the blender chopping unit through the dishwasher and by doing so, had lost the gasket. But a particularly “poor” moment for me to discover this was 24 hours after filling the kitchen with groceries for 1001 Nights of Fresh Produce, many of which feature blended soups. And the discovery of this fact while the blender was fully loaded was downright inauspicious.
The Party of the First Part is a cleaning demon. The kitchen is full of clean dishes, the drawers are full of clean laundry, and the housekeeper arrives like clockwork every two weeks to take care of the rest, and it is all to the credit of this Party.
However, Party of the First Part is also prone to letting the words of the Party of the Second Part flow against his or her eardrums like the soothing lapping of waves on rocks, or like mood music from the massage therapist. This, evidently, includes words like “Please don’t put that chopping unit through the dishwasher, because the gasket will get damaged or lost, and then we won’t be able to use the blender.” The Household Labor Exchange dictates that in consideration of the vast heaps of clean laundry and dishes, the Party of the Second Part is responsible for mechanical repairs, dealing with contractors, maintenance, and appliances.
Doubtless the proximate cause of this matter boils down to the usual one: language. In retrospect, it was probably not a good idea to assume that Party of the First part had, as a working component of his or her vocabulary, terms like “chopping unit” and “gasket”. It is more than likely that Party of the First Part considered the deployment of these Technical Terms in the same light as Mortitia Addams’ strategic deployment of French.
All of which leads to the discovery on Saturday evening, while the blender is loaded with the vegetable base of a corn bisque that needs to be pureed for the soup to take form, of the blender suddenly spewing liquids from the base.
Then there was cursing.
And then there was a brief trip to the computer to find out whether replacement gaskets could be sent or whether my$100 KitchenAid blender was now an extravagantly expensive paperweight. Thank heavens for Amazon. The only flies in the ointment were 1) the gasket isn’t eligible for Prime, so who the devil knows when it will get here, and 2) I still had a pan full of the base for the bisque, and it still needed to be pureed. The Shining Blessing of the moment was that Party of the First Part was not in a physically proximate location, nor available for phone conversations, which saved me from having to say the Four Worst Words in the Language of Marriage: I. Told. You. So. Or, rather, it saved that experience until now…
Thus began a great career of exploration and innovation: how to puree the soup base without using a blender?
The stick immersion blender did not do the trick. It would have worked if the substance to be pureed had been mostly mush and little fiber, but the immersion blender is not up to the task of pulverizing corn hulls and peaches. It took the soup base down to a lumpy state, but not the velvety smoothness that I want from a bisque.
The food mill did not do the trick, because the corn hulls clogged up the mesh.
Finally, I settled on the food processor, despite the fact that it was not designed to handle large volumes of liquids. The chopping blade lacked the pulverizing capacity of my blender chopping unit, and it also started to float free of its moorings, thus permitting my soup to leak out under the base…for the second time in one evening. However, it did reduce the corn hulls to a granular consistency, making the bisque edible, if not the experience I was looking for.
I spent the afternoon in Deep Thought, and arrived at a potential solution, which I am very happy to report worked quite well. The fundamental problem, other than the utter and profound absence of gastketry in the blender, was that the food processor isn’t designed to puree. The bowl is too large at the base, and the sides are too straight – when you put a bisque or chowder base into the thing, the solids float and get kicked up to the surface while the liquids just spin around pointlessly, thus causing the blades to float up and the whole thing to leak. The narrow tapered design of the blender funnels the solids to the bottom where the blades are.
In this case, formulating the exact nature of the problem (above) was 85% of the solution. The only thing that remained was figuring out a way to reduce the Float Issue while still getting my soup pureed smoothly. I know that the food processor can do this, because it does it every year at my First Freeze Pesto Making Extravaganza.
The lightbulb went off. It’s a dish-intensive solution, but it worked perfectly (for a given value of “perfect”, which in this case means “a bisque of a perfectly velvet consistency”). Instead of dishing up cupfuls of the solids and liquids into the (temporarily defunct) blender and pureeing them, I set a large colander over a large bowl, and strained the soup through. This had the happy effect of removing most of the liquids, leaving the colander full of cooked solids now suitable for pureeing in the food processor. Reintegration involved dumping the puree into the soup liquid, and spending a happy two minutes with the immersion stick blender to establish communication between the two. Voila. Velvety smooth bisque.
In honor of this event, I give you the two bisques under consideration: Corn and Peach Bisque, and Tomato and Peach Bisque.
Corn and Peach Bisque
6 ears corn (these are good-sized Full Summer Ears, not the puny Early Summer Ears we have now. If you have the puny ears, use more of them. You’re wanting about 4 cups of kernels)
1 onion, chopped
2 good cloves garlic, chopped
3 large ripe peaches, peeled and chopped finely (peel these the same way you peel tomatoes – cut an X in the bottom, and drop into a pan of boiling water for a minute or so, then pull out and drop into a bowl of cold water – the skin will float off)
6 C chicken stock
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 C heavy whipping cream
Strip the kernels off of the ears of corn, and put both the kernels and the cobs in a large pot. Put the onion, garlic, peaches, stock, and cayenne in the pot and bring to a boil. Turn down to a fast simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes. Cool, then discard the cobs. Run through a blender (or, if you’re in my house at the moment, run through a sieve and then puree the solids in a food processor, then put it all back together and blend up with your stick blender) to puree. Stir in cream and serve warm.
Tomato and Peach Bisque
AKA I Can’t Believe How Bloody Awesome This Soup Is!!
1 onion, chopped
2 T butter
2 lb tomatoes, peeled, cored (but not seeded) and coarsely chopped. Do NOT omit the “coring” step – if you do, it will be impossible to get a good velvety smoothness, no matter how long you blend it up.
3 medium peaches, peeled and chopped
½ C cream
½ t salt
good handful of chopped fresh tarragon (this herb is of VITAL importance to this dish)
Heat butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, peaches, salt, and a couple tablespoons of tarragon and simmer about 20 minute or until the tomatoes break up. Puree in a blender and add cream. Toss in the rest of the tarragon. Serve hot or cold.