Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In a Pinch.....This Will Do Just Fine....

I am getting back into cooking slowly but so enjoying it.  I haven't spent much time in front of the stove for the last few years for lots of reasons, not the least of which is lack of time and energy.  It has just become to easy to heat stuff up and get the occasional take out.  It is also so very tempting to just eat out but that has become so very expensive that we are rethinking ideas to reduce our food budget.

My Grannie was full Irish as my Mother would say and I grew up eating lots of potatoes.  I absolutely love them and they have been good to me during lean times when I needed to prepare meals for my family that were very inexpensive.  This time of year, I am always reminded of how versatile and delicious they really are.

Today after reading the daily email from theinspiredroom.net, I thought about how important it is that we learn to enjoy what we have and use what we have on hand.  Particularly during this time of year - Fall - the season we are trying to celebrate and appreciate, it is so easy to stay in and enjoy our surroundings and cook a good meal!

So, to that end, I am sharing a staple that has been in my family for years and it can be the base for many meals.  I know everyone has a potato soup recipe and may enjoy it.  I thought I would share the idea of how versatile this wonderful soup/stew can be!

Since I don't have a car or drive right now (long story for another blog), I have to make the best of what I have on hand many times.  My hubby works very long hours at a supermarket and does the best he can to keep us well stocked but many times I don't have all of the ingredients on hand that I need.  Hence the variables of this soup.   Forgive my lack of exact cooking terms and measurements - this is a build as you go soup - make it your own.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.....it is sure to become a favorite of your family if they like potatoes!

In a Pinch Potato Stew
6 or 7 large potatoes
1/2 good sized onion
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 stick Butter or Margarine
4 Chicken Bullion Cubes or Broth
2 stalks of celery
Garlic Powder (I use the parsley kind)
1 cup mashed potato flakes
1 cup Milk (I use skim but you can use any kind depending on taste)

I start by peeling and chopping my onion and add it to my soup pot with the butter and oil.  Melt the butter and cook the onions on medium heat while you peel your potatoes.  I do a rough chop on my potatoes but you can cut them any size or way you like.  I wash and add the potatoes to the pot as I chop and rinse each one. I also go ahead and throw in the bullion in if that is what I am using.  Then I chop the celery and add to the pot - if you don't have celery on hand, celery salt and or celery seed will give you a nice flavor as well. If I have some baby carrots in the fridge I will add some of those chopped as well.  I add the seasonings to taste at this point.  Keep stiring this as it sautees for about 10 -15 minutes.  The potatoes should be golden brown but not done all the way through.

Add 4 cups water to the pot and put a lid on and let it gently boil for about 30 minutes.  The potatoes should be softened up at this point.  Add 2 more cups water and milk now and let the mixture come to a soft boil.  If you like you can smash some of the potatoes now - I just leave mine alone.

As soon as the mixture is hot and slowly boiling, add the potato flakes and stir with a wisk until they are dissolved into the mixture.  You can make it thinner or thicker using potato flakes.  At this point the soup should be thickened and ready to eat......but you don't have to stop here.....

Sometimes I mix up a simple batch of potato dumplings and add in.  They are very simple using 2 cups Bisquick and 2 tablespoons softened butter and 2/3 cups of milk.  Mix together just like biscut dough and add 1/4 cup mashed potato flakes (Add more if you like a stiff batter).  You can spoon these into the boiling soup or roll them and cut into pieces and add.  Cook them for about 20 minutes longer - 10 with the lid on the pot and 10 without spooning the soup over the dumplings to be sure the get done all the way through.  This makes a wonderful hearty soup.  Chopped cooked chicken or other vegetables can be added if you like.  Enjoy!

We top ours with bacon bits (or you can fry up some bacon), sour cream and grated cheeses.  Chives are a great addition too!! Delicious on a cool Fall evening! 

No comments: