As work commitments begin to mount and take over my evenings and weekends, along with any hint of a social life, my cooking opportunities have slid away rapidly in the last few weeks. Last night I tried to correct that and add a few meals to the freezer that I can grab out and heat with little or no thought after a long day. Enter Potato Soup.
After what started out as a quick stop at the grocery store I was ready for soup. (If you ever shop with me don't let me choose the line - I always choose the longest one. Last night it seemed like my streak was broken. They were just about to finish ringing up the person in front of me and he dropped a jar of pickled beets and they splattered everywhere. I was in line for 30 minutes. Ugh.)
I have made potato soup a couple of times and I always feel that something was lacking, so this time I tried a little more flavor before adding the mass of potatoes. While it was a little thin, I am happy with this version. I'd better be because I'm having it for dinner today and probably tomorrow as well. And yes I used celery, but only because I had a theory that if I added enough vegetables I wouldn't have to have salad. Only I lost some of the vegetables between the checkout line and my house. Somewhere a thing of baby leeks is running free.
4 pieces of bacon, chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced,
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c of white wine
5 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
6 c of chicken stock
1 c of half and half
Water as needed
Saute bacon in large soup pot until crispy. Remove and reserve for sprinkling on top later. Saute carrot, celery, and onion for 10 minutes until soft. Add garlic and saute for an additional 3 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the wine and stir until almost evaporated. (Deglaze just means to dump the wine in, stir until all the brown bits are off the bottom of the pan, and then reduce the remaining wine till it's almost gone. It's generally done after browning pieces of meat to make a pan sauce, but I think it works here to get as much flavor as possible from the simple ingredients.) Add potatoes and stock. If potatoes are not covered add water till covered. Add at least 1 TB of salt, and boil till potatoes are fork tender. Remove from heat and blend till desired consistency is reached. (I think a sticker blender works best for this, and if you think your stick blender may not be at the full power you'd want it to be, check the top for an adjustable speed control. I didn't notice mine until after I'd blended the soup and then bitched that I wished it had more power.) Add half and half, season with salt and pepper, and serve. Top with grated cheese and bacon bits if desired. I also added a little bit of smoked sea salt (I picked it up someplace and use it sparingly because it's awesome and I want to keep it forever) to give it a little more smoke. This also freezes well for up to three months.
Note: You may think you're adding way too much salt, but you're probably not. It's a little disturbing how much salt this soup can take. I probably ended up with close to 2 TB of salt in my final soup. Also, if your soup is too thin feel free to add instant mashed potatoes. I would have added some last night, but my instant potatoes were passed their expiration date.