There’s Comfort In That Cup

My kids currently range in age from 16 to almost 36, and there is one thing, and only one thing, they all have in common. When they don’t feel well, there is nothing more comforting than Mom’s homemade soup. Even my grown kids will call and ask for it when they are not feeling well. I don’t make it any better than anyone else, but it is made with so much love and care, and somehow I think you can taste that. It is comforting and healing. It is good for the soul.

As for me, I have been dealing with persistent vertigo for almost a year now. This weekend has been especially tough, so I decided to bring my own soul some comfort in the form of potato soup.

Soups are generally easy to make. They can be made of just a few ingredients, or you can throw everything you have at them. Potato soup is simple, and it is flexible in that you can change it up according to your tastes or cravings.

Potato Soup Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 5 lbs potatoes, washed and diced
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4 ribs of celery, diced
  • 2 to 3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 to 3 cups half-n-half
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 6 cups water (or 6 more cups chicken broth, depending on your preferences. Using more broth instead of water will give the soup a richer flavor.)
  • salt and pepper to taste

When I am making soups, I like to begin it mise en place. That French phrase means to have everything in its place before you start cooking. Seasonings and spices are measured and set out, all of your required dishes are handy, and so forth. This makes is easy, for one thing, to see if you are missing anything, and for another, to have everything ready when you need it. Have you ever started cooking and found yourself going back and forth to the pantry, cupboard, and fridge to get the next ingredient you will be using? It is a time and energy waster in most cases!

How I dice my vegetables for soup really depends on my mood and how thick the soup or stew will be. For potato soup, I prefer small dice, which means uniform 1/4″ cubes. (Medium dice is about 1/2″ cubes, and large dice is 3/4″ – 1″ cubes.) Whatever size I choose for the soup, in most cases I make all of the cut ingredients (meats and vegetables) the same size.

To start the potato soup, dice the vegetables. I chose to cut the celery ribs in half lengthwise, then cut 1/4″ pieces. It may not be cubes, but it is very close in size to the potatoes. I also chose to go ahead and put the onions and celery pieces in the same prep bowl, because I will start cooking them together.

In a large pot, heat a teaspoon or two of olive oil, then add in the onions and celery. Sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables become fragrant, then add the 6 cups of chicken broth; stir to mix the flavors. Add the potatoes. (The broth will not be enough cover the potatoes.) Add about 2 teaspoons salt and a bit of pepper if you like, and stir again. Add the water (or chicken broth, if you chose to go with the richer flavor); cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender. With the small-diced vegetables, this should take about 10 minutes.

To thicken the soup you are going to use your blender, the butter and half-n-half. With a slotted spoon, remove 2 to 3 cups of the vegetables from the soup and place into the blender pitcher. Add 2 tbsp butter and 1/2 cup half-n-half.

Blend until smooth, then add back into the soup pot and stir. Repeat this process 3 – 5 more times until your soup is as creamy as you like it to be. You will want to make sure you leave some of the veggies in the pot to keep it interesting. You may wish to add more salt if it needs it at this point. I usually garnish each serving with cheddar cheese and/or chives. That, my friends, is your basic potato soup!

When I said this soup was flexible, I wasn’t kidding. You don’t have to use the full stick of butter if you don’t want to, but I love the flavor it adds. You can use milk instead of half-n-half if you are concerned with the fat content; it just may not get quite as thick. You can add chopped cauliflower or diced carrots when you add the potatoes if you wish. (If you want to add broccoli, steam it and add it after the soup is done unless you want green soup.) Many root veggies would also work well. Once you have thickened the soup, you may personalize it to match your mood. Throw in some cooked bacon or ham. Maybe a cup or two of grated cheddar cheese or corn. If you want even more flavor, you might want to add just a bit of Ranch dressing mix (the powder) or top with a dollop of sour cream. Make it your own, and enjoy!

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