Sunday, February 20, 2011
Soup That Hugs The Soul
Is there anything more comforting than indulging in a warm bowl of your favorite soup in the cold winter months? Homemade soup is like a hug in a bowl. It warms you.. fills you. If you are anything like me, cooking and preparing soup is a recipe in itself for melting your cares away.
I am not a culinary expert and have never attempted a potato soup before. I knew of a few techniques that would get me through this new dish. My biggest fear when making the soup was how to make it thick. If you know of a better way to thicken soup.. I would certainly welcome those suggestions.
This soup will consequently set you back a couple hours. I'd recommend making this soup ahead of time or just on a chilly Saturday night at home. One of the best things about soup is that it doesn't even have to be for you. Homemade soup is a great way to say "I hope you feel better" to a sick relative or even "thank you" to a helpful neighbor.
Prep time = 35 minutes
Cook time = 1 hour
Potato & Cabbage Soup
- 5 cups of beef or chicken stock (I used bouillon cubes of beef stock for a bolder flavor)
- 3 lbs of russet potatoes, peeled and halved
- 1 cup of ham, diced (I just used thick cut lunch meat ham and fried it but you can certainly use bacon too)
- 3 TBSP of sea salt
- Half of a medium sweet onion, diced
- 1 cup of green cabbage, diced
- 1 TBSP of red wine vinegar
- 4 cups of milk (For a thicker creamier flavor.. use whole milk or heavy cream. I wanted to keep it heart healthy and used what I had on hand.. 2% milk)
- 1 TBSP of dried parsley (fresh parsley is fine but hard to come by in the cold winters)
- 1 TBSP of dried tarragon
- 1 TBSP of Italian Seasoning or Mural of Flavor from Penzey's
- 3 to 4 TBSP of butter
- 3 to 4 heaping TBSP of All-Purpose Flour
- Salt and Pepper to taste
There are a lot of steps in the soup making process. Stay with me on this one!
Start by peeling and slicing the potatoes into halves or quarters. Place into a large pot or kettle of water, add a couple TBSPs of sea salt and boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to simmer until fork tender. In the meantime.. dice the cabbage, ham and onion. In a medium non-stick skillet.. add the onions and ham (add a little olive oil or butter to prevent burning). When the onions become translucent then add the cabbage and let it reduce. Sprinkle the mixture with about a TBSP of red wine vinegar. Reduce and set aside.
When the potatoes are fork tender, drain in a colander and slice. Do NOT rinse with water. (The potatoes should be fork tender but not breaking apart - since they will be simmering in the soup for an hour.) I sliced the potatoes into small, rustic chunks right in the colander.
In a medium skillet or sauce pan, mix together a combination of butter and flour. This is what I used to thicken the soup. Once it's completely combined, add 2 cups of beef stock and stir slowly until it is thick. The mixture that I created was about the same consistency as a can "cream of chicken soup". Of course you could always use Cream of Chicken or Potato soup as the thickner.
In a large kettle or pot, add 3 more cups of beef stock, the thickening mixture, and 4 cups of milk or cream. Stir until it becomes thick. Bring to a boil. While waiting for it to boil.. add the spices - tarragon, parsley, mural of flavor and (of course) salt and pepper. After bringing to a boil, reduce to a low heat. Add the remaining ingredients - potatoes, cabbage, ham, and onions. Stir occasionally. Simmer for about 1 hour.
Serve with a roll, biscuit or bread of your choice. And, of course... Enjoy!!