In trying to think of what to write about to share with you all Hubby suggested comfort foods. I cannot truly recall what these were in my childhood but in hindsight I think about Chicken Dumplings and Potato Soup. Hubby thinks about grilled cheese sandwiches cut into “soldiers” and served with tomato soup. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is a combination my sister served her children. I did not like tomato soup as a child so I never made it or served it to my children. Mind you, this would be the condensed version diluted with water; I don’t think my Mom used milk to “heat and serve”. Nowadays there are the non-condensed soups with added tasty ingredients and I find that I enjoy tomato soup with spinach every once and awhile. I read somewhere a long time ago that foods served with a spoon are comfort foods, perhaps adding cream or milk as well. Sounds reminiscent of children’s foods.
I have a bunch of potatoes recently bought and in the bottom of my pantry. I have a hankering for potato soup. My Mom’s potato soup was made with milk, potatoes, onions, and butter. I remember the butter floating on top. She would not have necessarily used evaporated milk or cream so it was probably plain milk and water. It was a thin soup with the potatoes being the primary solids.
I have a potato soup in a cookbook that I bought as an adult. It is one of those Better Homes and Gardens collections. The pictures in this book are very appealing. Here is the one for potato soup. It looks wonderful. Makes me hungry just looking at it! I think I may have made this once before but it doesn’t seem to me that my children ate it so I am not sure. Hubby doesn’t particularly like soups unless they are very chunky and stew-like. That may be a difficult call for a potato soup. But since I am home days with this tiresome broken ankle, I could make soup for my lunches. That is the plan!
This particular soup calls for chicken or vegetable broth. Well, I believe I have some frozen homemade turkey broth in the basement freezer. But I do not go down the basement steps on crutches. No, no, no, no! So I look into my newer The Settlement Cook Book (newly revised and enlarged, 1965, 1976, original publication 1901). Other than caraway seed which I entirely doubt that my mother used here is a recipe that sounds like hers: potatoes, butter, salt and pepper, onion, and milk.
Now I never leave well enough alone so I want to add colorful red peppers, maybe some orange and yellow as well, and bacon or ham. I might even add the tops of green onions.
So I gather my ingredients: I am using canned milk for a creamier base and could add regular milk to make two cups. Or I could just add the can, undiluted, to the liquid after it cooks. This will depend on how much liquid is in the pot when the time comes. The recipe calls for 3 cups diced potatoes. The other calls for 3 medium potatoes (2 ¼ cups) so I will use 4-5 potatoes. I like onion so I will use two small onions instead of ½ of a small onion. I have also learned that to sauté the aromatics prior to putting them in the soup liquid make a more flavorful soup. Therefore I cut the onion, peppers, ham, and cook those gently in the 2 Tablespoons of butter. I cook these for about 5-7 minutes until there is quite an onion aroma in my kitchen!
Meanwhile peel and dice the potatoes. I peel 5 potatoes which makes 4 ½ cups. I suppose I could have done with 4 potatoes! Oh well! While I am dicing these it occurs to me that my Mom sliced her potatoes so I do that, sort of. These are about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. I wonder why I peel these. Most of my potato dishes have the peels intact. In fact, a second look at the Better Homes and Gardens photo shows unpeeled potatoes. Too late now. Add these potatoes to the pot with the aromatics and add water to cover.
This amount of ingredients took almost 5 cups of water. Now this is to be cooked until the potatoes are tender, 10-20 minutes. The milk will be added then and heated through but not brought to a boil.
I found a package of not too stale saltines which is what my Mom would have served this with or with white bread toast. I prefer the saltines.
The ingredients for this soup turned out to be:
- 4 ½ cups diced/sliced potatoes
- ¼ cup chopped green onion tops
- 1 each small red, orange, and yellow peppers, sliced
- 4 ounces of boneless ham steak, diced
- 2 small onions, diced
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 5 cups water
- 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
One could add a can of clams, drained, and turn this into New England Clam Chowder. Or add fresh or canned or frozen corn and turn it into Corn Chowder. One could put a bunch of vegetables in there and have a creamy vegetable soup. I bet broccoli and carrots would be nice and one could stir in some grated cheese. This could quickly be prepared with pre-prepped ingredients found in the freezer and produce sections of general grocery stores. All kinds of possibilities when talking about soup!
And soup is so nice to have on cold, bleak winter days;my thermometer says it is 21 degrees (F) outside today!