Right now, Texas is very cold and very wet. Of course, it’s winter, but sometimes, we have winters that are as warm as any spring day. Not this year. This weekend was no exception. Gray days, rainy, extremely cold — days and evenings meant for snuggling under blankets in pjs with furkids, eating warm comfort food.
Today’s warm comfort food also brings my second guest chef — my sister, Kathy. She made potato soup while I supplied the homemade dinner rolls (something I’m still working out, but they were still tasty).
Now to put this into a little perspective, I have tried so many types of potato soup in my life, and every single one has fallen short of my expectations of what potato soup is supposed to taste like according to my imagination. The Irish potato soup at Jason’s Deli is supposed to be a hearty, stick-to-your-bones type of soup, but I really can’t get behind one that I can stand the spoon in and it doesn’t fall over. My ex made one when I couldn’t eat much else because my teeth were killing me, but it was so full of cheese that it was more grease than soup. Even my mother’s potato soup fell short, and there wasn’t much Mom cooked that I didn’t like — her soup was more or less potato chunks in water with some salt and pepper. I assumed that my search for the perfect potato soup would always turn up with nothing palatable for the rest of my life.
Then, about a month ago when we had another cold and wet snap, my sister decided that we needed potato soup. I was intrigued by how she’d make it and a little concerned that it would be just another sad disappointment. I watched her make it. I was skeptical at first when she diced up baby carrots really small (mostly because I had an aunt who put carrots in her chicken and rice soup, and it was gross — not to mention she added oil on top of the broth, so that didn’t help it either), but there weren’t a lot. By the time the soup was ready, my mouth was watering, and from the first bite of Kathy’s potato soup, I knew that my imagination and patience had finally been rewarded.
She makes THE best potato soup out there — certainly, she makes the only potato soup my tastebuds had been wanting and always denied.
Tonight, I’m going to share the recipe with you. It’s incredibly simple. We had it tonight for supper along with some dinner rolls I’d made. Again, I’m still working on my bread, and I’m determined to perfect it soon.
KATHY’S POTATO SOUP
8 medium-large potatoes, peeled, cut into small wedges
1-2 stalks of celery, diced small
1 cup baby carrots, diced small
1/4 – 1/2 onion, diced small
Celery leaves (optional) – diced fine
1-2 cups chicken broth (or enough to cover the potatoes with)
2-4 tbsp butter
1/2-1 cup milk
1/2-1 cup heavy cream
Salt or garlic salt & black pepper to taste
1. Peel and dice all the potatoes into a bowl. Set aside. Dice up carrots, onions, and celery (and celery leaves if using) small.
(If at all possible, catch the chef in a photo, though sometimes, they’re shy and don’t always want to appear on camera)
2. In your stock pot, melt 2 tbsp butter and add in the onions, carrots, and celery (and celery leaves if using). Stir until the veggies are all coated with the butter and begin to soften. Add in the potatoes and do the same.
3. Take your chicken broth — my sister chose to use the Reduced Sodium store brand — and pour it into the stock pot. Use enough to at least cover the potatoes completely. Stir and cover so that the potatoes will boil faster.
4. When the potatoes are soft (such as when you make mashed potatoes), take about a cup of the hot broth into a glass measuring cup or a bowl and blend with 1-2 tbsp flour until you have a loose paste. Add this back into the stock pot to thicken and use your masher and mash the potatoes — but only a little! You still want plenty of potato chunks in your soup. This is when you can add in the milk and heavy cream and then your salt (or garlic salt) and pepper. Cover again and then ladle into a bowl when you’re ready to eat it.
CLASSIC DINNER ROLLS
I found this recipe on Allrecipes-dot-com.
Original recipe makes 12 rolls
2 cups all-purpose flour, or more if needed
1 envelope Fleischmann’s® RapidRise Yeast (I used 2 tsp Rapid Rise yeast)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter OR margarine
Combine 3/4 cup flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Heat milk, water and butter until very warm (120 degrees to 130 degrees F). Add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1/4 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces; shape into balls. Place in greased 8-inch round pan. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Bake in preheated 375 degrees F oven for 20 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; brush with additional melted butter, if desired. Serve warm.
The rolls will really go with anything, but they were damned tasty with the soup. As you can see, they didn’t rise much, but they were still fluffy. I have some other things I’ll try to make them rise more (it wasn’t the yeast this time because I have all new yeast). Oh! And in place of the regular salt, I used garlic salt and about a tsp of onion powder. The flavors were very subtle and yummy.