Friday, March 21, 2008

An Apology and a Recipe

First, the Apology.

I'm sorry this has been such a cranky place lately. My blog used to be my happy place but lately it has become a dumping ground for my angst, and for this I apologize.

Say what you will about February. March is freaking brutal.

However, maybe... just maybe, I am seeing a glimpse of the light at the end of this god-forsaken tunnel.

And so, as a "thank you" for putting up with my whining, wretched self for these past several weeks, I am going to share the Potato Soup recipe I invented on Wednesday.

I may not be the gourmand of this blog family--leave that to tortious or Charming--but if there's one thing I know, it's Comfort Food.

I'd been craving potato soup for weeks, but simply couldn't find any, nor could I find a recipe that really jumped out at me to say "Yes! Pick me! Choose me! Gorge on me!!" And so, like any good cook, I figured I'd just make one up myself.

The results, if I do say so, were fabulous.

But not photogenic. So no pictures this time.


And now, I give you....

Froggy's Potato Soup

You Will Need:
Onion, chopped - roughly 1 cup
Celery, chopped - roughly 3/4 cup
Garlic - 4 cloves, smashed with the flat of the blade and roughly chopped
Bacon - I used half a package, you may want more (see below)
Potatoes - 3 large, chopped to varying sizes, roughly 4 cups
Butter - 1 stick
Heavy Cream - 1/2 pint
Chicken Stock - 6 cups
Flour - 3 heaping tablespoons
Irish Whiskey - 1/4 cup, I prefer Jamesons
Salt, Pepper, Thyme, Poultry Seasoning, Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Fresh Nutmeg - to taste

Garnishes (see below)


In a LARGE pan, brown the bacon. DO NOT USE NON-STICK (this is crucial, note the caps). I used my massive enameled cast iron pan, but any non-stick surface will do. Cook until crispy or close thereto, thicker cuts of bacon are better for this. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels.

Note to Fellow Bacon Lovers: You know as well as I do that you cannot fry bacon and NOT want to eat some, so always cook more than you need! Also, if you want bacon for garnishing, be sure to take that into account.

Empty the bulk of the grease from the pan, and for god sake don't dump it down the drain! That shit is uber-bad for your plumbing! Keep a grease can under the sink. I use old coffee cans.

Also, DO NOT SCRAPE THE PAN! Leave all that seared bacony goodness right where it is. (Note, Boar's Head smoked bacon is particularly good for this.)

Now, add 2 Tbsp of the butter to the bacon pan. Once it's melted, throw in the onion and celery and saute over medium-low heat. After a few minutes add the garlic. When the onion is translucent and the celery smells like sex in a pan (or is that just me?) remove from heat and empty contents into your soup pot. Add chicken stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat.

Once the soup pot is boiling return the bacon pan, which should still have plenty of stuff stuck to the bottom, to the burner. Heat on medium until you hear a hint of sizzling and then use the Whiskey to deglaze (i.e., dump it in there, watch it sizzle, take a moment to breath in the ecstasy, then grab a plastic spatula and get to scraping!).

When all the bacon remnants are now suspended in liquid whiskey as opposed to stuck to the pan, add the remaining butter and reduce heat to medium-low. When butter is melted, add flour one Tbsp at a time, whisking between each. When the mixture is a nice golden brown (which will happen quickly), add the heavy cream, whisking while you pour. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and begins to pull together.

Pour cream mixture into simmering soup pot. Yes, it will look gloppy and gross when you first pour it in, but a minute or so of rapid whisking will get a nice uniform texture.

Set aside the bacon to be used for garnishing and add the remainder to the pot. Bring the mixture back to a boil, then reduce heat to low, season to taste, and simmer.

Simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes. Whisk rapidly every 5-7 minutes while simmering. Let stand, uncovered, for 5. Serve with garnishes of choice--I like shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chives or scallions.

1. I used homemade chicken stock which was already nicely seasoned, so didn't need to add much. If you use store-bought stock, you may need to add more.

2. Chopping the potatoes to varying sizes is crucial. The smaller chunks will cook down and dissolve into the soup with the whisking, while the larger chunks will remain intact.

3. If you like your soup to have a lighter consistency, follow directions as noted. If you like it thicker (like I do), you will want to add some corn starch before the final simmer. In order to avoid big clumps, put some cornstarch in a small container with water, cover, shake it up, then slowly add to soup.

4. Freshly ground nutmeg is my secret weapon. Use a tiny bit of it in pretty much any recipe calling for cream. You will not be sorry.

(That last note is the real "thank you" gift :) )

And there you have it! It looks like a lot of work from the recipe, but really it's quite simple and oh so very yummy!

Phew, this post is much longer than I anticipated! I was going to leave you with a list of "Reasons Unemployment Might Not Be So Bad," but it's getting late and I have to be downtown quite literally at the crack of dawn tomorrow (more on that later), so I'll have to save that for another day.

Instead I'll leave you with this:

I got my Summer Financial Aid letter this evening and considering the month I've had I was frightened to open it. Fortunately, all is well in that arena and--barring any uncaring and evil payment schedules for fees--I will be able to afford my travels this summer. Hooray!

Hmmm... I wonder if this is the "money-making opportunity" Susan Miller predicted for today? Eh, maybe not, but still... I'll take it!


Z said...

Mmmm... potato soup! Sounds yummy!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. And hey it's better to get it all out than keep it bottled up inside :)