Sunday, October 15, 2006

OldRoses' Potato Soup

The annual Fall Foliage Festival at Rutgers Gardens was held yesterday. Volunteers were urged to bring breakfast treats to share and a lunch if they were working the entire day. Of course, I made blueberry muffins to share with everyone for breakfast. For lunch, the Volunteer Coordinator had mentioned bringing soup and her crockpot because it was going to be a chilly day. That gave me a great idea! I have a wonderful recipe for potato soup that is rich and hearty. It's perfect for a crisp, cool autumn day.

The origins of this soup are lost in the mists of time. I know that I started out with a recipe card and then made changes but I can't recall what those changes were. Except the ham. Originally the recipe called for a specific amount of cooked ham. Most people use leftovers. I am cooking only for myself so there is no way I would be making an entire ham. Instead, I wait until ham steaks go on special at the grocery store, buy one, cut it up and use that instead.

Using red potatoes is important. I've tried other kinds of potatoes but the soup just doesn't taste as good.

The secret for making this soup great instead of just good is in the size of the potato and ham pieces. Yes, size matters! Take the time to cut up the potatoes and ham steak into tiny pieces. Smaller than bite size. The soup will be easier to eat and therefore, taste better. And the potatoes will also cook faster.

I have made this recipe many times but not for the past few months when the weather has been too warm for soup. Without thinking, I put in a lot of pepper the way I like it. Then I realized that other people might find it too spicy. I fished out as much of the red pepper flakes as I could and hoped for the best.

And the best is what I got. It's a good thing I grabbed some at noon. There wasn't much left by the end of the day. And I received the ultimate compliment for any chef: two requests for the recipe.

Verdict: Yum! This one's a keeper!

OldRoses' Potato Soup
(Source: OldRoses)
3 medium red potatoes
2 cups of water
1 small onion
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Crushed red pepper flakes
Ground black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 ham steak
Peel potatoes and cut into bite size pieces.
Bring water to a boil in large saucepan. Add potatoes and cook until tender. Drain. Set aside potatoes.
While the potatoes are cooking, peel and finely chop onion. Cut ham into bite size pieces. After setting aside potatoes, melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion to saucepan; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and tender, but not brown.

Add flour to saucepan; season with pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Cook 3 to 4 minutes.

Gradually add potatoes, chicken broth, milk and sugar to onion mixture in saucepan; stir well. Add cheese and ham. Simmer over low heat 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Store leftovers, covered, in refrigerator.
Compost: potato skins, onion skins

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