Six-Potato Soup

Speaking of books, Mike and I often like to check out the bargain shelves at the front of the chain stores, especially the cookbooks. A few weeks ago we came home with a bargain: 400 Soups. Often such books are more like "50 Soups, with Seven Variations Each" or columns of crammed print, but this book is genuinely good. One soup per page, plenty of colour photos (step-by-step and finished product), ample vegetarian options, and a spice-happy, whole foods focus.

(As opposed to "dump in a can of french fried potatoes" or worse, "add a can of cream of mushroom soup" - is there a word for recipes like this? Where, in order to make the dish, you practically buy the dish already made? I'm not saying it's bad - knowing how to dude up the store-bought stuff is an art - but is there a name for it?)

The soup that sold me (for a mere $3.99) was the book's "Cream of Spring Onion." It just sounds like cruise food. (Purr.) We walked across the street from the bookshop straight to the grocery store to get the ingredients. A week or so later (I am living proof that drive and ambition are separate qualities), I made the soup.

Decently yummy! Of course I took lots of pictures, but you can't see them because I had to use the flash. I had to. Two of our four kitchen spotlights are out, and management hasn't dropped off new bulbs. (Probably because they prefer to come in and change them, but why let strangers in when you're not home when you can, with some wishing, hop up and down on the ladder a bit and change them yourself?)

I have learned to hate the flash, but sometimes it's that or nothing.

Cream of Spring Onion Soup

First, opened the windows, let in the daylight (shudder!), and gathered together several plausible ingredients.

Six Potato Soup - Ingredients of Mixed Focus

Then, I decided to not bother changing lenses, so that way lots of things would be just out-of-focus enough to look decidedly crap. Completely intentional, really.

I began by melting two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. After a minute, I decided to add some cumin to the butter. It just seemed to cast that artisan edge on things.

Six Potato Soup - Melting Cumin in Butter

Meanwhile, I chopped/diced/minced up half of a red onion, three spring onions, a leftover hunk of yellow onion (Mike calls it "brown onion."), six or eight cloves of garlic, and a serrano pepper.

This all went into the now-melted butter, where it simmered, covered, on extremely low heat for 10 minutes. I may have thrown in a little more cumin. It may be my favourite spice.

Six Potato Soup - Onions and Garlic Simmering

While that simmered, I chopped six potatoes. (This is why it's "Six-Potato Soup." I stood there and thought, well, how many potatoes? Maybe six? Yes - then I can call it Six-Potato Soup! Really. Nomenclature drives culinary expectations. For awhile I tried calling it "Six Six Soup," for the six potatoes and the six cloves of garlic, but that was too gimmicky for even me.)

In order to ready the potatoes, I used the special Australian potato peeler that Mike had his mother send over to us. Mike has strong opinions on kitchen gadgets.

Potato Peeler in Dramatic Repose

(It's so dramatic here, you can't tell that the peeler is as unthreateningly orange as the rooftop on a Barbie camper.)

The potatoes were really on the end-brink of firmness here. Soup was a good use for them.

Six Potato Soup - Taters on the Brink

Apparently I'm not the sort of person who believes in peeling a potato right the first time. Oh well, I had to go back to cut out the mushy bits anyway. Blegh.

Potatoes cubed into smallish portions, I added them and a little over two cups of vegetable broth to the simmered vegetables. I wish I could say I made my own vegetable stock, maybe even kept handy cubes of it in the freezer, but no. Not at all. (Did I ever tell the story of the time I made vegetable stew squalor? It took six months and a lack of curiosity about what was happening under the lid of one of the saucepans on the back burner. On second thought, I don't want to talk about it.)

Six Potato Soup - Potatoes and Broth Added

Next, I added crank after crank of organic smoked peppercorns. We got these at the same time that we got the Himalayan salt. (The pink stuff in the shaker in the first picture... maybe you thought that was just bad post-processing.) I don't know if we'd spend the extra bucks for Himalayan salt again, but the smoked peppercorns are so good, especially when freshly ground. Mmmm-MMM!

Six Potato Soup - Smoked Peppercorns

That whole lot simmered on a high-end-of-low heat for 30 minutes, covered.

Six Potato Soup - After 30 Minutes

After 30 minutes, I had this autumnal glop, which was then poured into the blender.

Six Potato Soup - Blending the Hurl

(Not pretty.)

Puree, puree, puree. Pour back into saucepan. Slowly add a cup and then some of half-and-half. (My answer to "Light cream? Huh?") Add salt. Taste. Add salt. Taste. Add salt. Taste. Add salt. Taste. Think it might be perfect. Decide not to add lemon juice after all, even though the final step of lemon juice is what turned the Cream of Spring Onion recipe from "meh" to "mmm!" (Or maybe it was because we used key lime juice instead.)

Six Potato Soup - Unpretty

More of a "soup at work" photo, but I was quite hungry by this point, and my little tastes were starting to evolve into indelicate slurps. MMMmmmmm! Much better than the Spring Onion soup. Mmmmm!

Mike gave it a nine out of ten. "What would you change about it?" "Nothing. I guess it's a ten!" It's hard to tell the difference between genuine praise and husbandly craptalk sometimes, but I have to admit that the soup was gooooood. I could taste the tiny twin kicks of serrano and smoked peppercorn throughout the garlic scarf of flavour wrapped around the potato, a scarf with subdued onion plaid.

And that is the story of Six-Potato Soup. How many potatoes are idle in your pantry today?

08 May 2010 |



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