My boohooing the absence of Midwest seasons is over. Completely. It is 45 degrees (according to TWC) at my parents house today (feels like 35). Here, it is 70 and I'm wearing a sweater and scarf. I mean, I've always been a weenie when it comes to the cold, but this is a little much. I can even recognize that. In my defense, the locals are wearing parkas and stocking caps in the evenings. I'm starting to have panicky knots in my stomach about what 30 degrees is going to feel like in a couple of weeks. That's probably even being a bit optimistic that it will be 30 degrees. I'm consoled by the idea of my parents' fireplace, a functioning oven, and the fact that I'm planning on eating my weight in Christmas goodies, Indian, Thai, Korean, and Japanese food every single day.
My point, however, was that this past week has felt really cold. I know this probably doesn't garner much sympathy since I just said it was 70, but it has. Mwweh (that's the noise I always imagine my voice sounding like when I'm being very whiny). I also had a nasty cold that won't go away. (another Mwweeeh). Between my morgue of an apartment and the incessant whistling and rattling of failed nasal breathing, I discovered a desire to make soup. I probably can't even claim to have discovered a desire. A frigid apartment and nasal maladies are pretty much signs that soup is hunting me down.
Soup appealing to me was the glimmer in my sad mucousy week (did I mention my 16 year old dog died too? It really was a pitiful stretch). I love making soup. It has a tendency to always be exactly what you need. I can't think of another food that is quite as comforting and necessary in sad, sick times. It is one of the easiest things to mess around with, without fear of losing the delicious. No real planning and gathering the correct ingredients necessary. Look in your fridge and around your kitchen and you should be able to whip up something warm, smooth, and satisfying. Also, a delicious meal that can be cooked in a single saucepan satisfies my minimal-dish-usage quota (which gets even more strict when I'm ill). Up until last week, though, making soup in Mexico hadn't occurred to me. Not once. But now, a chill in the air and snot in my nose has put it back in my repertoire.
Potatoes were the dominant vegetable at hand, so potato soup it was. Nice timing too, since I started making creamy potato soups about a year ago, when my friends came to Louisville for Thanksgiving. Potato soup in bread bowls and K Cider was the welcoming meal I made in a fit of nostalgia, replicating one of our favorite meals in college. My potato soup impressed me so much, that throughout the winter, I regularly made large pots of it, varying it each time depending on what was around. So convenience and a double dose of nostalgia made this recipe, feel free to throw in some bacon, broccoli, celery, cheese, or any delicious random thing that you have lying around. Well, maybe not Krispy Kremes, save those for dessert. That would be the ultimate body and soul soothing meal, fit for the sick or wallowing.
Creamy Potato Soup
6 tablespoons of butter
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 dried chiles de arbol*, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound of potatoes, cubed
12 C chicken stock
2 C of carrots, sliced
2 C of zucchini, chopped
3 C milk
Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic, onion, and chiles. Simmer over low heat for about two minutes (make sure to keep it low so the butter doesn't burn) or until onions are translucent. Add potatoes and remaining butter. Cook for 3 minutes more over low heat. Stir to keep vegetables from burning. Add chicken stock and raise to medium-high heat.** Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. When potatoes are tender, add carrots and zuccini. Cook 5 minutes. Ladle about 4 cups of vegetables and liquid into a blender (it should be heavy on the potatoes). Puree. Return to saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add milk. Cook until thoroughly heated or desired thickness (if you want a really thick soup you can puree more potatoes). Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with some crusty bread and white cheddar. Maybe crumble some bacon on top. Oooh yeah, bacon. Oh! And have a Happy Thanksgiving, mis estadounidenses. Safe travels! Safe gorging!
*These bitches are HOT. If you aren't a spice-monger, you may want to hold off or cut back.
Also, if you crush them by hand, don't touch your eyes for like a day. It BURNS!!!!
** This is a more expedient method, but feel free to cook over low heat for an extended period, just as long as the potatoes get cooked, it's all good.