Experiment #12: An Unusual Cold Soup

Over the past few months, we’ve had a bit of a crash course in Atomic Age cuisine. We’ve fussed over meringues, whipped two whole creams, and packed solidified ketchup and Tiny Shramps™ into the shape of a phallic-nosed trout.

But sometimes, you don’t need a lot of spices and sauces and finicky techniques. Sometimes, all you need are simple, high-quality ingredients and a wholesome preparation that lets them shine.

This is not one of those times. 

This week’s recipe, An Unusual Cold Soup, is a culinary toast to the American Experiment—provided that experiment was designed to assess whether non-Newtonian fluids count as “soup.”  

 Do-do a dollop of dafuq?
Let’s dispatch with the obvious. This coupe glass crammed with beefsog and congealed nonsense is not a soup. But it is cold and unusual, and two out of three ain’t bad.

Today’s “What? Why?” special comes to us care of Helen Kelley Stafford, wife of the inimitable Robert Stafford (R-VT) for whom your student loans are named.

This dish is something of a rare miss for the Stafford clan. Bob, a native Vermontian, was a Master Mason and legislative golden boy who never lost a single election over the course of his 41-year political career.

And boy, did he win a lot of elections. Ol’ Staff Infection ran (and served) as Vermont’s state attorney, attorney general, lieutenant governor, governor, and congressman.

Stafford was a Republican environmentalist, which is not an oxymoron but rather an archaic reference to a species of legislator on the IUCN’s critically endangered list. Today, they’re found only in a handful of zoos—sadly, never in breeding pairs—and Rand Paul’s human menagerie.

His work on clean water and air frequently put him at odds with his party, from industry leaders to then-President Reagan, who attempted to veto amendments that strengthened the Clean Water Act (Speak Softly and Carry a Big Staff led a successful effort to override the veto). According to the Associated Press, an auto industry executive once told Stafford, "if you ever want a piece of paper saying you are a certified son of a bitch, come to me.”

The problem? Stafford was a Rockefeller Republican who championed natural disaster relief programs, assistance for higher education, and, in his retirement, civil unions for gay couples.

His voting record even earned the admiration of a young (in a “youngest redwood sequoia in the Bingo parlor” sense) Sen. Bernie Sanders, who at the time of Staffords’ death said his work on education and the environment had “made our state proud.”

Certified Son of a Bitch®
In return for his years of education-centered service, Congress produced a crippling debt albatross and festooned the sun-smelted carcass around Stafford’s neck like a laurel wreath.

Federal Stafford Loans: Keeping Your Dorm Fridge Stocked with Consommé since 1965.

Helen Kelley’s contribution to the Congressional Club Cook Book is so bizarre, it nearly defies description. We thought we’d try something a little different this week.

Two truths and a lie:
  1.  This dish has only two ingredients
  2.  All of the ingredients are cow-based
  3.  This dish tastes like an open packet of Jack Link’s that someone left in a bog.

…the joke is on us.

Step 1. Acquire two whole ingredients

*soup intensifies*

No vegetals this week. What a relief! Just two ingredients: two cans of “jellied Madrilene” and a pound of sour cream. For strong bones.  

When we first read Helen Kelley’s ingredients list, we thought this was going to be some kind of posh French dessert. We’d never heard of “jellied Madrilene,” but it sounded delicious.

Our initial research suggested true Madrilene involves tomato, but we couldn’t find cans of jellied beef-and-tomato consommé anywhere in the metro. Still, we found several recipes purporting to be Madrilene that just used beef consommé, so we felt safe to recreate the dish without it.

[Arrested Development voiceover] “They weren’t.”

Step 2. Cool your cans

 One can to rule them all
One can to find them
One can plus sour cream and gelatin to bind them

SURPRISE MOTHERF*CKERS: inside every can of consommé lies an ancient evil waiting to be awoken. All you have to do is refrigerate it long enough to assume its true form.

After a couple hours in the fridge, the consommé had solidified into the texture of middle 
school cafeteria Jell-O salad.

Not awful, right?

Now imagine that Jell-O salad was flavored entirely with brine-soaked hooves.

Consommé Cthulu ftag’n.

Step 3. Assemble your cold broth parfait

Helen’s only instruction is to “layer cold Madrilene and sour cream in parfait glasses.” We took the glassware at its word and assembled a few trifle layers of jellied broth and Milk Tang.  

...okay, the side view isn’t the greatest. We promise there are layers in that trough of eel slime. But have you tried to spread congealed gelatin into a delicate band?

Helen Kelley has. And probably served the result to a party of fancy Congressional ladies.
The 1980s. What a time to be alive.

Step 4. Consume your consommé

We mashed up a first-taste reaction video of Tom and Liz sampling those juicy beef squeezins’.  

But if you haven’t the bandwidth or fortitude to click, we’ll give you the highlights.

The consomme is loose and oily, the full-fat sour cream is dense and pasty, and the resulting salty pudding-sludge is both unpleasantly beefy and unsettlingly tangy.

Sheen level: The West Wing  

But from a distance, you can almost convince yourself it’s a root beer float topped with whipped cream.

We’re not suggesting you trick your friends with it this April Fool’s Day.

But we can’t think of a better use.

An Unusual Cold Soup
By Mrs. Robert (Helen K.) Stafford
Adapted from the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book

2 cans jellied Madrilene
2 cans Hamm’s
1 lb. sour cream

Layer cold Madrilene and sour cream in parfait glasses. (I have served this on a picnic in plastic airline type glasses). Serve each glass with a frosty Hamm’s. Make 4 to 6 servings.

1 comment:

  1. I really hope that the kind of consumme they used to use is more like this recipe: https://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/86809/consomme-madrilene-chilled-consomme-with-red-peppers-and-tomatoes/