Monday, December 7, 2009
Potato Soup - Blue Monday
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...It's difficult to glamorize potatoes. It's much easier to sing their praises. The nutritionally dense potato is a near perfect food. Conquistadors, returning from Peru, brought the potato to Europe, where it's value as a food crop was quickly recognized. It was less expensive to grow than grain or legumes and it was much easier to store. The potato spread as rapidly through the new world as it had through Europe. According to the USDA "a diet of whole milk and potatoes would supply almost all of the food elements necessary for the maintenance of the human body." Prior to the potato famine, a single acre of potatoes and the milk of one cow was enough to feed a large Irish family, a boring, but nutritionally adequate diet. Today's soup is a perfect example of what can be done with the inexpensive potato. For the next several days we will be experiencing unseasonably cold weather in the Pacific Northwest. To my mind, there is no better way to fight the chill than a bowl of steaming soup. This is one of those recipes that I throw into my "of cabbages and kings" category. At it's heart, this is great peasant fare, but with a bit of tweaking it becomes a vichyssoise worthy of a Bourbon prince. I have a 10# bag of russet potatoes in my pantry. I paid $1.29 for that bounty. I use approximately 1-1/2 pounds of potatoes in this recipe. Salt, pepper, some onions or leeks and a bit of butter and heavy cream complete the ingredient list for this soup. I can make a nice lunch or light supper for six people for under three dollars. You can't go wrong, unless you hate potatoes. Anything you fancy can be added to the soup base. Think along the lines of bacon and cheddar cheese and you can see where this simple recipe might take you. Here's the base for an absolutely delicious soup.
Potato Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
1-1/2 pounds (about 3 cups) thinly sliced leeks, onions or a combination thereof
1-1/2 pounds (about 4 cups) thinly sliced potatoes
2 quarts water
1 scant tablespoon Kosher salt (see Cook's Note)
1/2 cup heavy cream, half-and-half or whole milk
3 tablespoons minced chives or parsley
1) Heat butter or oil in a 4 to 5-quart saucepan until hot. Add onions and simmer, until onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
2) Add potatoes, water and salt to pan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. Mash vegetables with a fork or pass through a food mill. A blender will turn this to paste, so don't be tempted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add whatever else your heart desires and serve this screaming, steaming hot with crusty bread and a salad. Yield: 6 servings.
1) If you want to make vichyssoise, pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and chill. You will need to adjust salt before serving.
2) While there is no other seasoning used in this soup, some find it has too much salt. If you are watching your salt intake, add salt, a teaspoon at a time, to taste. I will continue to use the amount specified in the recipe.
This post is being linked to:
Smiling Sally - Blue Monday