Friday, December 28, 2007

potato soup, revisited

I returned home from my family's Christmas celebrations with a new digital camera, and I have been busy creating photo albums on Facebook with it ever since.

To see a Facebook album that describes this potato soup recipe in its entirety (photographs included), click here.

1. I had a bunch of potatoes that needed using up, so I made some potato soup this afternoon. Luckily I had some onions, too - courtesy of my last visit home to my parents. Normally I like to use leeks in soup, but onions will do in a pinch... (These ones were pretty small, so I used three.)

2. Peel the onions and chop them into large pieces.

3. Heat some olive oil (I used about three tablespoons) in a soup pot and add the onions. (Check out the neat spoon holder I got from Mom and Dad for Christmas (you can buy them at Lee Valley).)

4. Here's how many potatoes I used. Let's see... one, two, three... looks like there are eleven there. I don't normally cook a certain number - just as many as I have, or as many as will fit into the soup pot.

5. Remove any eyes from the potatoes (just snap them off), and wash them.

6. Chop the potatoes into large, uniform chunks.

7. I normally save cooking water from vegetables, and freeze it in canning sealers until I need it. Today I pulled four jars of frozen cooking water out of the freezer for this soup.

8. Defrost the cooking water for several minutes in the microwave, so that you can get it out of the jars. Alternately you could defrost the jars in the fridge overnight, or just use plain water for the soup.

9. Saute the onions until they are nice and soft - kind of like this.

10. Add the semi-frozen cooking water or broth to the onions, and heat until it's completely thawed.

11. Add the chopped potatoes and top up the pot with water until the vegetables are just covered.

12. Sometimes I cook the soup plain, without any seasoning. Today I felt like doing something a little more adventurous, so I pulled out some rosemary, ground cloves and ground cinnamon. I added about a spoonful of the rosemary leaves, just a pinch of ground cloves, and about half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. The smell of these particular herbs and spices always reminds me of Swiss Chalet dipping sauce, for some reason. Add the spices to the soup pot and cook, covered, until the potatoes are soft enough to break with a fork.

13. Once the potatoes are cooked, you're ready to puree the soup. Here's my usual set-up for the pureeing: soup pot, blender and a bowl for the pureed soup.

14. I puree the soup while it's still hot (not recommended, since it's a burning hazard - but I like to live dangerously...) Regardless of whether the soup is hot or cold, don't fill the blender jar very full. Completely cover the solid food chunks with liquid. You may need to use a bit of extra water by the end of the job - this particular soup took about another four cups of water in addition to the soup stock.

15. Just as an aside, potatoes are very starchy. Don't blend them too long or you'll get wallpaper paste instead of yummy soup. And rinse all containers immediately after using them, to make clean-up easier.

16. I always wait to add salt until after the soup is pureed. Today I decided to use up some special salts I've had sitting in my cupboard for over a year. The red salt is Hawaiian, I think, and the white salt is Italian sea salt. The grey salt is sea salt from Brittany. In the end, though, all I used in this soup was the red salt.

17. I usually add about this much [approximately 1 tablespoon of] salt to start with, and taste between additions. It's better to add too little rather than too much at a time! Trust your own tastebuds. This is the fun part. Stir the soup well between additions, and then taste it each time. Does it taste like soup that you'd gladly eat in a restaurant? Not salty enough? Add a little bit more salt, and repeat the entire process until it tastes just right.

18. Because I usually freeze most of my soups, I get out a bunch of canning sealers while the soup is cooking.

19. Fill the canning sealers with hot soup. If you're going to freeze the jars, don't fill them too full or the jars may break in the freezer.

20. Cool the jars in the fridge before putting them in the freezer. Each pint jar holds approximately one serving.

©2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

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