Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Recipe Revisit: Potato Soup

Good evening everyone! I'm not so sure what's 'good' about it this time. It was another blustery, cold and rainy day here in Iowa. Cold, wet, windy such is our fall weather recipe. Tonight, the talk from the weather experts is that the temperature will fall to 30 degrees or below. YIKES. That is a little too cold for my liking - but the one advantage to this newly established cold pattern - it's officially soup season!

Not that I need an excuse to make a soup dish. (I tried my hand at a couple during the balmy summer months after all). As I said earlier this week, tonight's recipe is a revisit of sorts. I've attempted some variation of potato soup twice on the blog, each one different in multiple ways. Tonight, I'm revisiting each old recipe to create an entirely new recipe. I'm not cooking with a backdrop here, so there is the potential for a disaster...hold on to your hats folks...this is going to be fun!

The recipe: Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Recipe Revisit From: Rustic Potato Soup & Soothing And Savory Potato Soup

What You'll Need:

5 Medium Russet Potatoes
4 Slices Thick Cut Bacon
1 Large Onion (Chopped)
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese (Sharp Cheddar Preferred)
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 3/4 Cups Water
2 Tablespoons Chives
1/4 Cup Dry White Wine

Begin by peeling and cubing your potatoes into 1/2 inch sections. The smaller the better here, as they will cook a little faster at a smaller size.

Next, chop 4 slices of bacon into smaller pieces (roughly 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch - keeping in mind that bacon shrinks during cooking.) I found that a good pair of kitchen shears works the best here. Rather than struggling to cut through the sometimes gristly bacon, the shears simply clipped right through.

In a large dutch oven or not stick cooking pot, place the bacon bits on medium heat and cook until they are golden brown. Once golden and crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon bits from the pot. Be sure to reserve as much of the grease and fat as you can. Place the bacon bits on a paper towel covered plate and set aside.

Next, add you chopped onion to the pot. The bacon grease acts as you butter or olive oil here - and it adds a great additional flavor - double bonus! Cook the onion until it becomes slightly golden brown.

Add the chicken broth, flour, water and potatoes. It works best to combine the flour and water beforehand - to ensure the mixture is completely combined - rather than trying to struggle with mixing everything in the pot. Stir everything together well and increase the heat to high. Allow the pot to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes become tender. About half way through the simmering time - add the bacon bits back to the pot. I didn't want the bacon to become 'water logged' while cooking the potatoes, so by my reasoning, half way through the cooking process would allow the flavor to be present without sabotaging the crispiness of the bacon.

Soup recipes don't lend themselves to good photos - here's an 'artsy' shot of steam rising from the pot :)

Once tender, add the wine and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes (to allow the alcohol to cook off.) Next, reduce the heat to low and slowly add portions of the shredded cheese (about a 1/2 cup at a time) making sure to stir well until the cheese is completely melted. Continue this process until the all 2 cups of the cheese has been added. Allow this cheesy mixture to simmer for another minute before adding the chives. Stir the chives in with the soup and top with a sprinkle of pepper to taste. All that's left is to serve and enjoy!

The Results:

For a homemade, "I-Hope-I'm-Doing-This-Right" recipe, it was very good! I am finally getting close to the flavoring that I've been trying to achieve for so long. The cheese, potato, bacon and chive combined to create a great - full and savory - baked potato flavor. Exactly what I was trying to do. Adding the water and flour created a thicker soup (which I discovered was needed after trying my second potato soup recipe.)

The only slight tweak I would make to this recipe now would be to reduce the ratio of water to chicken broth. I still would have liked more flavoring from the base of the soup and adding more broth and less water would achieve that for me I believe. In addition, for my next go-round with this recipe, I may through in on leek, on top of the onion. The leek's onion/garlic hybrid flavor could add an interesting element to this dish. Outside of that - I'm getting really close to creating the recipe I can taste in my head.

This is one of the greatest elements of cooking, experimenting and creating and discovering new things. Working, tweaking and updating a dish until it becomes the true end result you know it can be. I've tried my hand at three very different iterations of potato soup now and I finally feel like this third, original take is the closest I've been to that sweet, savory dream. I know (and you know) I will be returning to this recipe again and I think the 4th time will be the charm.


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