Friday, September 13, 2013

Something From Nothing #16: Creamy Potato Soup

The first little sign of fall arrived on our doorstep a couple of days ago.  The temperature dropped 30 degrees overnight, and at first a soft rain moved in soaking our yard, and now three days later it is still raining.

My poor dog is totally depressed by this weather.  Unable to take our morning walks, we have been virtually housebound.  I feel so sorry for him as I watch the wheels turn in his furry little head as to how he's going to get his business done outside without getting drenched. I don't know what he dislikes more, rain soaked fur or the vigorous towel rubdown he gets before he can come back in the house.

Oftentimes when we have a sudden change of weather like this, or on those days when I lose my steam late in the day, I will abort more involved dinner plans and go to our favorite default recipe, potato soup.  I guess I inherited this from my mom who loved nothing better than cooking up a big pot and throwing in a pint of raw oysters after dipping out a bowl for me and my sister.

In its most basic form, potato soup is a super simple tummy warmer.  Throw in a few extra ingredients and you can easily make clam chowder, a spicy roasted poblano soup or like my mom, a briny oyster stew.  Oh yeah, and don't forget about the version where you chill it and blend it for a cool vichyssoise.

So next time you are starving and the cupboard is bare, or if your bag of potatoes is starting to sprout and you don't want them to go to waste, a simple, wholesome and filling supper is closer than you think.

Creamy Potato Soup

1 - 1/2 pounds peeled potatoes (about 4 medium), cubed
1 medium size onion, peeled and cubed
Enough water or chicken broth to cover potatoes in a medium to large size sauce pan
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 - 2 cups milk or half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes, onion and bay leaf in a medium to large size saucepan.  Pour enough water or chicken broth over them to cover by about 1 - 2".  Bring to boil over medium high heat.  Once they boil reduce heat to medium making sure they maintain a slow boil.  Cook until potatoes and onions are very soft and break apart easily when pierced with a fork.

Remove from the heat and discard bay leaf.  If needed pour off a bit of the water or broth so that the vegetables are not quite covered.  Mash the potatoes and onion with a potato masher, immersion blender or the back of a fork until they are mostly mashed.  Stir in milk until desired consistency is reached.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Return to a medium heat and cook until it is heated through.

Serve immediately just like this or with your favorite garnishes.  Some of my favorites are grated cheese, sour cream, bacon bits and green onion.  I also like chopped ripe tomatoes and basil or roasted green chiles and cheese.

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