John Fleer's Buttermilk Cornbread Soup

January 18, 2017
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

This recipe is found within Victuals by Ronni Lundy (Clarkston Potter, 2016), a cookbook which explores the people, places, and food of Appalachia. The recipe itself is the brainchild of chef John Fleer, a Piedmont native, and it's “a simple riff on the hill tradition of eating crumbled cornbread in buttermilk from a tall glass.” The day-old cornbread thickens and gives body to this comforting soup that you’ll enjoy just as much hot in the winter as you will chilled come warmer weather. —Lindsay-Jean Hard

  • Serves 4
  • Peanut oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped leeks, white part only
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken broth, plus extra if needed to thin the soup
  • 1/2 cup crumbled, day-old cornbread, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe
  1. Set a medium soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and add enough peanut oil to coat the bottom. Add the leeks and celery, and reduce the heat to medium-low; sweat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables become lightly translucent without coloring. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; then add the chicken broth and cornbread. Bring to a low simmer, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. Stir the buttermilk and heavy cream together in a large bowl. Very slowly add the hot soup to the milk mixture, stirring constantly, almost drizzling the soup in. Puree the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed. If the soup is too thick for your liking, add a touch of extra chicken broth.
  3. Return the soup to the pot and heat it very gently over low heat until it is hot. Serve with a little crumbled cornbread on top as a garnish.
  4. To reheat any leftover soup, be sure to rewarm it slowly over low heat to prevent the buttermilk from separating. It's also quite delicious served chilled.

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