Sunday, November 20, 2016

Loaded Potato Soup

I think it has gone from 95 degrees to 60 degrees in 3 days around here.  Whaaaa?  We have seriously burned through some wood lately in our fireplace.  And there's nothing better on a cold night than a bowl of soup.  Okay, I do know some people who are anti-soup.  But I can't say I identify with them.

My kiddos and I LOVE soup!  There's just something that feels like "home" when you are making and eating soup together.  This one is no exception.  I betcha every big restaurant out there has their own recipe for potato soup.  Let me let you in on a secret... There's nothing hard about it.  And the ingredients are very - humble.  As a matter of fact, these bowls of loaded potato soup are just perfect for a cold evening, a fire, a great movie, and dinner with the people you love!  

Print this Recipe

Ingredients:


  • 1/3 pound bacon (about 8 slices)
  • 1/2 onion, diced very small
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut very small
  • 3 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled 
    • cut into sizeable chunks
    • Boiled 30 minutes
  • To make this a chunkier soup (or for leftovers) add 1-2 cups small red potatoes
    • washed, cut into chunks, boiled until tender
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp garlic paste (3 medium cloves)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 (15oz) cans chicken broth (about 3 1/2 cups total)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped small
  • Garnishes
    • grated cheddar cheese
    • crisp cooked bacon pieces
    • dollop sour cream
    • chopped chives
Step-by-Step:
Begin by putting the 3 pounds of peeled yellow potato chunks on to boil in cold water.  
3 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into sizeable chunks
While the potatoes are coming to a boil, cut the bacon into lardons (pieces about 1/2" wide), and cook them in a heavy soup pot or dutch oven until crisp.  When done, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving the bacon grease in the pot.  This will become part of the flavoring for our soup.

*Note - depending on your particular kiddos, I might recommend you making more than enough bacon.  Seems that every time I turned my head, a few more pieces turned up missing.  
1/3 pound bacon (8 slices), cut into 1/2" pieces
To the bacon grease, add the 3 Tbsp butter.
3 Tbsp butter
 Saute the diced celery and peeled/sliced carrots in the butter/bacon grease.
3 ribs celery, diced very small

2 carrots, peeled and sliced very thin
Allow the carrots and celery to cook down until soft on medium heat, stirring frequently.  This will take several minutes.

Once the carrots and celery are cooked soft, add the garlic paste (or cloves).  Cook another minute until fragrant, stirring to be careful not to burn the garlic.  It's almost like we are building a mirepoix.
1 Tbsp garlic paste (can use 3 medium cloves garlic, minced very small)
Now we are going to turn this into a roux to thicken our soup.  Add in 1/4 cup flour, sprinkling it over the top of the sauteed vegetables.
1/4 cup flour
Cook the flour down into vegetables, stirring it as you go, for several minutes.  You don't want it to taste floury.  Let it cook until it turns just a bit brown /tan and smells a little bit nutty.

Now find a whisk somewhere, because we are about to incorporate the liquids.

Slowly whisk in about half of the milk, whisking as you go.
3 cups milk (I used whole milk.  It's what we had on hand.  You could also use 2%.)
Now we have all the "vegetable roux" incorporated into a nice thick paste... so....

Now we can add the rest of the milk in, still whisking.
The rest of the milk.
Whisk in the chicken broth.   The chicken broth adds additional flavor while keeping it from being so heavy.
3 1/2 cups chicken broth (or two, 15oz cans)
By this time, the potatoes have come to a boil and have had time to get fork tender.  Using a kitchen spider, carefully transfer them from the boiling pot to the soup pot.  *Note, I am not transferring all of them at once.  I am going to leave about a third of them in the pot for the time being to be added last.
The cooked potatoes

*Cook's Note - If you need to reheat this soup and would like an extra textural component, the yellow potatoes shown here will all "mush up."  Add that point, you can always add 1-2 cups washed, chopped small red potatoes that you have boiled to fork tender.  The red potatoes will hold their shape.  You can add extra chicken stock, seasoning, etc to account for the extra potatoes. 

Add the cooked potatoes to the soup.

I would be remiss if I didn't show you that I had help to make this soup!  ☺☺

Now let's get this thing seasoned up!  Pepper to taste... we used 1 tsp restaurant style black pepper.
1 tsp restaurant style black pepper (it has a larger cut) (or to taste)
1 Tbsp kosher salt (not table salt).  If you are using table salt, you will probably use much less.
1 Tbsp kosher salt (or to taste)
Now let's do some fun stuff.  You get to control how smooth or how chunky you would like your soup at this point.  If you have great help like I do, you probably won't get to participate in this part because they will steal this job from you. 

We're getting pretty close to the finish line!  Let's add in the cup of half and half now.  At this point, we don't want to boil the soup any more.  Just a nice simmer will do the job.
1 cup half and half
So, you remember those extra potatoes that we left in the pot?  Now we are going to bring them to the party.  The soup we have in our pot is pretty smooth, and we do want some texture in here, so that's why we left them there.  You can see that these chunks are pretty large, so feel free to break them up a bit smaller if you want to.  
the rest of the cooked potatoes
Lastly, we MUST have a bit of color in our soup.  A bit of FRESH.  So in goes our chopped chives.
1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped small 
The chives have a very mild, garlicky, oniony flavor that will enhance our soup just perfectly.  Not to mention, they look beautiful in the soup.  The kids and I feel strongly that each dish must have an element of freshness in it somewhere.   

Okay, let's kick these up a few notches and make them beautiful with our garnishes!!!
We added all the yummy fixins that you would add to a loaded baked potato:  Crisp bacon, fresh chives, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and a dollop of creamy sour cream! 

Bonus Recipes





Written Method:
  1. Begin by putting the 3 pounds of peeled yellow potato chunks on to boil in cold water.  
  2. While the potatoes are coming to a boil, cut the bacon into lardons (pieces about 1/2" wide), and cook them in a heavy soup pot or dutch oven until crisp.  When done, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving the bacon grease in the pot.  This will become part of the flavoring for our soup.
  3. To the bacon grease, add the 3 Tbsp butter.
  4. Saute the diced celery and peeled/sliced carrots in the butter/bacon grease. Allow the carrots and celery to cook down until soft on medium heat, stirring frequently.  This will take several minutes.
  5. Once the carrots and celery are cooked soft, add the garlic paste (or cloves).  Cook another minute until fragrant, stirring to be careful not to burn the garlic.  It's almost like we are building a mirepoix.
  6. Now we are going to turn this into a roux to thicken our soup.  Add in 1/4 cup flour, sprinkling it over the top of the sauteed vegetables.  Cook the flour down into vegetables, stirring it as you go, for several minutes.  You don't want it to taste floury.  Let it cook until it turns just a bit brown /tan and smells a little bit nutty.
  7. Slowly whisk in about half of the milk, whisking as you go. 
  8. Once you have a nice thick paste, add the rest of the milk in, still whisking. 
  9. Whisk in the chicken broth.   Adds additional flavor while keeping it from being so heavy.
  10. By this time, the potatoes have come to a boil and have had time to get fork tender.  Using a kitchen spider, carefully transfer them from the boiling pot to the soup pot.  *Note, I am not transferring all of them at once.  I am going to leave about a third of them in the pot for the time being to be added last.
    1. *Cook's Note - If you need to reheat this soup and would like an extra textural component, the yellow potatoes shown here will all "mush up."  Add that point, you can always add 1-2 cups washed, chopped small red potatoes that you have boiled to fork tender.  The red potatoes will hold their shape.  You can add extra chicken stock, seasoning, etc to account for the extra potatoes. 
    2. Add the cooked potatoes to the soup.
  11. Pepper to taste... we used 1 tsp restaurant style black pepper.  
  12. 1 Tbsp kosher salt (not table salt).  If you are using table salt, you will probably use much less. 
  13. Now let's do some fun stuff by mashing up the potatoes with a potato masher.  You get to control how smooth or how chunky you would like your soup at this point.  
  14. Let's add in the cup of half and half now.  At this point, we don't want to boil the soup any more.  Just a nice simmer will do the job.
  15. So, you remember those extra potatoes that we left in the pot?  Now we are going to bring them to the party.  The soup we have in our pot is pretty smooth, and we do want some texture in here, so that's why we left them there.  You can see that these chunks are pretty large, so feel free to break them up a bit smaller if you want to.  
  16. Lastly, we MUST have a bit of color in our soup.  A bit of FRESH.  So in goes our chopped chives. The chives have a very mild, garlicky, oniony flavor that will enhance our soup just perfectly.  Not to mention, they look beautiful in the soup.  The kids and I feel strongly that each dish must have an element of freshness in it somewhere.   
  17. Okay, let's kick these up a few notches and make them beautiful with our garnishes!!!  We added all the yummy fixins that you would add to a loaded baked potato:  Crisp bacon, fresh chives, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and a dollop of creamy sour cream! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Zuppa Toscana

menumusings.com Zuppa Toscana
Zuppa toscana translates to "soup in the style of Tuscany" and is an Italian soup made with Italian sausage, crushed red peppers, diced white onion, bacon, garlic puree, chicken bouillon, heavy cream, and potatoes.  Aside from that, you may have had it at a popular Italian chain restaurant here in the United States.  It's a fantastically hearty soup for a cool evening and is oh so simple to throw together.  This version even has the benefit of a healthy dose of kale, which my kids are super cool with... making it even better for the whole family! 

If your family hasn't been introduced to kale, this is a great recipe to start with, as it really has no taste but is SUPER healthy for you.  Chop it super small and let it pass as just another seasoning.  Your "meat and potato" lovers are sure to appreciate this one! I was at my mother's house one evening when she was making this and it blew my mind... "Where in the world has THIS been all my life?" and "Oh my word, my kids are going to LOVE this!" 



Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup bacon (~ 4 slices)
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 2 cups small red potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 - 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 cups kale
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt 

Step-by-Step:
Cook 1/3 cup bacon pieces (~ 4 slices) either separately or in the same heavy pot that you are going to make the soup in.  Cut them into lardons about 1/2" pieces.  You can remove them to a separate dish.


*Tip - I've even tried making this soup "out of order" by sautéing the bacon and onions first and keeping them in the pot the whole time.  It worked just fine.  Moral of the story.. I don't think you can really mess this up.  
1/3 cup bacon (about 4 strips)
Brown 1 pound Italian sausage, breaking into small pieces as you go.
1 pound Italian sausage (I used mild. Use spicy for more kick)
Chop the kale as finely as you'd like it!  We remove the outer spine first.  

Tip - * I'm always looking for parts of a recipe where I can elicit help from my kids.  They love being involved, it makes them curious about the dish, and definitely helps them feel ownership of the recipe.  Oh - and of course they learn cool techniques, new vocabulary, and are eager to try new things!  Win - win -win! 
2 cups fresh kale
Add the 2 cans chicken broth and 1 quart water to the pot and stir.
2 cans chicken broth
1 quart water
Add 1 large chopped onion, 2 cups chopped small red potatoes and 2 -3 large minced garlic cloves to the pot and bring to a boil.
1 large onion, chopped as finely as you'd like it

*Tip - The red potatoes hold together during the cooking process better than the other kinds without mushing up or falling apart!  The yellow ones fall apart.  You're welcome.
2 cups small red potatoes, cut uniformly in chunks

* Tip - In a hurry?  You can use the garlic paste that comes in a squeeze tube for faster soup prep!  I've tried it with this recipe and it works fabulously! 
2-3 large garlic cloves, minced finely
Add the chopped kale after bringing to a boil.
Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, then it's time to add the cream.

Turn down to a simmer, add in the 1 cup cream and simmer an additional 10 minutes on low.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Add in the cooked bacon pieces.
Add in the 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste). *this soup traditionally has red pepper flakes as well.  You could add them here but I knew my kiddos might not appreciate them, so I didn't.
black pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp)
kosher salt to taste (I used about 2 tsp)
Doing a check to see how it all looks... how thick it is, etc.  Colors are nice, eh?  But it feels a little bit thin to me, so let's add a little thickener.
Add in a roux made of 2 Tbsp flour and 1 Tbsp melted butter (made into a paste).  Mixed together, they won't clump up.  This needs to be stirred into the soup and cooked a good 5 minutes or so.  Allow it to come up to a nice bubble so the thickeners can do their work and the floury taste can cook out.  
1 tsp melted butter + 2 Tbsp flour
Now as a final touch just before serving, we hand grated about a half a cup of Parmigiano reggiano!
Of course this magical touch makes everything just right!  :)
Optional - 1/2 cup Parmigiano reggiano freshly grated
We like to pass around a big chunk of Parm and the grater so everyone can grate a little cheese right over their soup after they ladle some into their bowls.  Sorry, just being completely honest.  LOL  
Also, if you have some really good vrea 
This isn't a very savvy photo, but here are two very happy little kitchen helpers who LOVE LOVE LOVE this soup!  At the end of the day, that's really all that counts.  Not a fancy photo.  :)
The kitchen crew! :) 
Written Method:
1 - Cook 1/3 cup bacon pieces (~ 4 slices) either separately or in the same heavy pot that you are going to make the soup in.  You can remove them to a separate dish.
2 - Brown 1 pound Italian sausage, breaking into small pieces as you go.
3 - Add the 2 cans chicken broth and 1 quart water to the pot and stir.
4 - Add 1 large chopped onion, 2 cups chopped red potatoes and 2 large minced garlic cloves to the pot and bring to a boil.
5 - Add the chopped kale.
6 - Cook until the potatoes are fork tender.
7 - Add in the 1 cup cream and simmer an additional 10 minutes on low.
8 - Add in the cooked bacon pieces.
9 - Add in the 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste). *this soup traditionally has red pepper flakes as well.  You could add them here.  
10 - Add in the roux made of 2 Tbsp flour and 1 Tbsp melted butter (made into a paste).
11- Add in the 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano and serve. 

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