The Joy of Soup
I love it when dinner presents itself with little or no thought on my part. Today I had the following in my kitchen: 2/3 of a bag of potatoes, a leek, an onion, leftover uncooked bacon, half a carton of leftover heavy cream. What does all that equal? That’s right, potato soup. I love potato soup because you can put just about anything in it. This is how you can make your own.
6-8 c. homemade turkey broth (Thanksgiving just keeps on giving)
3-4 lbs potatoes
1/2 onion (or a whole onion if you don’t have the leek)
4 strips of bacon (or however much you have left, no one ever complains about too much bacon)
4 cloves minced garlic (or a spoon of the pre-chopped stuff that I use because I hate chopping garlic)
Salt and pepper to taste
A cup of heavy cream, or half and half, or whole milk
cheddar cheese (not critical but it’s nice on top)
The first thing to do is get out a big pot and put a little water in it and then add the frozen broth from the freezer, so it can melt while you’re peeling the potatoes. The broth makes for a richer, more velvety soup, but the truth is you can do this with just water if you don’t have broth.
After the broth is melted and the potatoes are peeled, chop them into bite sized pieces. I know some people like to puree potato soup, but having made it both ways, I prefer the texture of the potato pieces.
While the potatoes are coming to a boil in the broth, fry the bacon. While the bacon is frying, chop up the onion and the leek if you have one. (if you’ve never cooked with a leek watch this video.) After the bacon is fried, remove it from the pan and set it aside to crumble when it cools. Then sauté the leeks and onions in the bacon fat, when the onions are almost translucent and the leeks are wilted, add the garlic and let it cook for a minute or two. I can’t stand the taste of burned garlic, so I always put it in at the end. After a couple of minutes, add the contents of the frying pan to the soup. Then put the frying pan back on the heat and add enough beer to cover the bottom of the pan about a quarter of an inch. Let it come to a boil and it will pull off all that lovely flavor from the bottom of the pan, deglazing it, and coincidentally making it easier to clean. When all the goodness from the bottom of the pan is incorporated into the beer, add the beer to the soup pot. This is a good time to taste the soup and add salt and pepper. Depending on how you made your broth, and from what, will determine how much salt you need. How much you like pepper will determine that. Let the whole thing come back to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, mostly cover it with a lid just to the side so it doesn’t boil over and let it cook thirty minutes. During this time, you can finish the beer while you clean up the kitchen, or better yet, you can finish the beer while someone else cleans up the kitchen.
After 30 minutes, taste it again for salt and pepper. Adjust. About this time, I add a generous portion of Tabasco, but that’s just me. If it tastes good, turn off the heat and pour in the cream, half and half, whole milk, or some combination there of. How much depends on how creamy you want the soup to be. I like the soup to be sort of a golden white, but not thick with cream. Grate some cheddar cheese to go on top or don’t. Serve with bread or a salad or both or neither.
Variations: Use ham instead of bacon.
If you have a leftover carrot, grate it and sauté it with the onion and/or the leek.
Add the grated cheese directly to the soup. You can add a ton of it for very cheesy soup.
Use another cheese instead of cheddar.
Sauté kale or spinach or cabbage with the onion and/or leek.
Or just about any other thing you want to add to this wonderful versatile soup. Enjoy!