Yes, it is definitely time to break out the winter-chill-chasing recipes. While I love summertime for all of the grilling we do, the fall and winter stews, pies and baked goods just make me all warm & fuzzy inside. We never had home-made soup when I was a kid - everything we had came out of those little red & white cans. I must admit, that although my mom was not the greatest of cooks, she could heat the heck out of a can of soup! Unlike some moms we know. Let me take you back a few years, to when you were just a tot and I was a harried working mom, just trying to get dinner on the table....
We came home from the day-care, and I was busily preparing one of my famous quick fix dinners of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (from a can, of course). While I normally just blended the soup concentrate with all water or with half water and half milk, I decided that maybe you needed something a little more fortifying and used all milk instead. When I put the soup in front of you, you just kind of looked at it a bit skeptically, tilted your head, and asked "Mom, is the tomato soup supposed to be orange?"
"Yes, honey" I replied. I explained that using all milk made the soup a different color than what you were used to, but that it would be so much tastier and creamier. (Meanwhile I'm thinking - gheesh! the nerve of this kid, questioning her mom!) You seemed satisfied with this answer, knowing that, as always, Mom is always right, and could never, in her ultimate wisdom, ever serve her precious daughter anything less than a perfectly prepared meal. Imagine my surprise, then, when I heard this tiny voice a few minutes later, asking with just a tint of trepidation, "Mom, is the tomato soup supposed to be cold?" I was busted! even my four-year-old knew that soup is supposed to be hot! In my rush to get dinner on the table, I'd completely forgotten to heat up the soup!! Maybe that was the day you decided to become the culinary queen that you are - no more trusting Mom!
Well, I've come a long way since then. I rarely open a can of soup, unless it's an ingredient in something else like a casserole. And I must say that this recipe for potato soup came out wonderfully. I can't really call it baked potato soup, because unlike most similar recipes, the potatoes aren't baked - just allowed to simmer until they're tender. The beer & cheddar cheese add a nice tang, and the topping of bacon, cheddar & sour cream? Divine.
loaded potato soup
4 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 large ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 c. flour
salt and pepper
3 c. chicken stock (more if necessary)
1 c. whole milk
1 (12 oz.) bottle of beer
4 large russet potatoes, peeled & chopped
2 c. grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
1/2 to 1 lb. bacon, cooked crisp
sour cream for topping
chives for topping
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, carrot, celery & onions. Cook until the veggies begin to soften. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies & continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes more, or until flour is toasted. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Gradually whisk in the stock, and then the milk and the beer. Add the potatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes).
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove about 1 to 2 cups of potato chunks and reserve. Using an immersion blender, puree the rest of the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the stove, and turn heat to low. Add the reserved potatoes and a handful of bacon pieces.
4. Add one cup of the cheddar cheese, a handful at a time, stirring and cooking until smooth after each handful. Add Worcestershire, hot sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Place soup in bowls and top with remaining cheddar, sour cream, bacon and chives.