Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Potato Soup

If ever there was an opulently opossumish dish, this is it: It is humble, it is sublime. I have based my recipe on a few versions of it that Sue’s mom has provided. I feel justified in offering my own rendition because Sue’s mom has tinkered with the recipe plenty herself.

This is a perfect supper for a cold wintry night! So comforting and warm!

I encourage you to improvise your own version, too. After my version of the recipe, I’ll provide two of the potato soup recipes just as I’ve received them from Mrs. Ferber, so you can get ideas for alterations, substitutions, and shortcuts.

Julie’s Potato Soup

2 pieces of bacon
1 onion (white or yellow), chopped
1 carrot, coarsely grated
2 or 3 potatoes, peeled and diced into bite-size pieces (Yukon golds are good)
3/4 tsp. salt (or to taste, remembering that bacon adds saltiness)
1/2 tsp. pepper
water or chicken or vegetable stock
1–2 tbsp. cornstarch, mixed into a pourable slurry with about 1/2 cup water
1–2 tbsp. butter
parsley (or other herbs—summer savory? basil? oregano?) for garnish

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or soup pot, fry the bacon until crisp. Put it on a paper towel to drain and set aside. Pour off the grease into your grease jar. (You do save it, right? I mean, you’ll need it later when you want to cook kale!) Don’t clean the pan; leave the cooked bits of bacon and some grease at the bottom.

Put the onion and carrot into the pot and sauté them in what’s left of the bacon grease. As moisture comes out of the onions, scrape the bottom of the pan to liberate the bacon goodies. You might add a little water to help the process. When that’s accomplished, add the potatoes, salt, and pepper, and cover with water or stock. Cook on medium, covered, until the potatoes are done.

While the potatoes are cooking, crumble up the bacon—it will be a garnish. This is the time to make the cornstarch-and-water slurry if you haven’t already. Also, get out the saltines (or Chicken in a Biskit crackers; both are traditional), pieces of cheese or summer sausage, pickles, and whatever else you’ll be having. Set the table. Get the drinks ready.

Once the potatoes are cooked, stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook to get it really pretty thick; then stir in some butter, and thin it out with milk to get the consistency to your liking. Make sure it’s heated through, stir in any parsley or other herbs you want, and then serve. Garnish with the crumbled bacon.

Betty Ferber’s Potato Soup (Version 1, her preferred way)

2 nice-size Idaho potatoes (or less)
1 onion
coarse-grated carrot
salt, pepper
chicken stock (or water)
margarine (Parkay)
crumbled bacon (optional garnish)

Peel and dice about 2 potatoes. Chop the onion. Add carrot, salt, pepper—cook until done in water or chicken stock. Thicken with cornstarch—get it really thick—then add milk to get consistency right. Add a hunk of margarine. Garnish with crumbled bacon; serve with saltine crackers.

Betty Ferber’s Potato Soup (Version 2, as of Dec. 2006)

1 onion (white)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
about 5 lbs. (4 large) potatoes (Irish) (or more)
1 stick butter or equivalent of “I Can’t Believe”
cornstarch (note, as of 2015: Mrs. F says you can use some instant potato flakes instead of cornstarch)
crumbled bacon (optional, for garnish)

Chop onion and add to soup pot. Cover onion with water; add salt and pepper. Peel and dice potatoes, cover with water. Add parsley to make it pretty. Add thickener (cornstarch)—get it pretty thick, then add milk to make it the right consistency, and add the butter/margarine. Garnish with bacon crumbles. (Sue likes to ladle the soup over some crushed saltines in the bowl.)


. . . And now, a bonus related recipe from notes I made during an Ohio visit during Christmas 2013: it’s very, very easy to make, though the sodium is probably frightful. Still, when you’re both disabled, can’t drive anymore, it’s cold out, and you’re eating out of the cupboard, this hits the spot! It’s probably from the back of a scalloped potatoes box.

Corn Potato Chowder

3 tsp. margarine
1 small onion, chopped
1 box scalloped potatoes (yes, including the seasoning packet)
2 cups hot water
2 cups milk
1 can of corn (drained)

In a saucepan big enough to hold everything, sauté the onion in the margarine. Then add the rest of the stuff and simmer, covered, for 20–25 minutes.

Thanks Mrs. Ferber, for letting me share your recipes, and thanks much more for sharing them with me! (Susan says thanks, too!)


Osage Bluff Quilter said...

Thanks for the recipes. The blacksmith doesn’t like milk, so I must try one of these.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Well . . . milk is a part of all these. Or maybe you're saying this soup would be a way to get milk into him when he doesn't like to DRINK milk? . . . Anyway, on the subject of milk, recently I've discovered Kefir--which is sort of like a yogurt smoothie. Because it's fermented, there's very little lactose left in it. And the probiotics are good for your digestion. It's a bit of an acquired taste. I can recommend the pomegranate, mango, and strawberry flavors.