What’s not to love about potatoes?
It’s a staple in the majority of kitchens across the globe, an everyday ingredient with no limit to what one could make. Lets see there are potato chips, mashed potato, potato galette, au gratin potato, potato pancakes, french fries, home fries hash browns and good old baked potato, just to name a few.
It’s a no wonder the “spud” is considered the worlds most versatile vegetable, whose origins are both Peruvian and Chilean that date back to 500 B.C.
Archeologist have discovered The Incas grew, ate and also worshipped the potato. They buried potatoes with the dead, they’ve hid potatoes in bins for use in case of war or famine, they dried them, and carried them on long journeys to eat on the way. Ancient Inca potatoes had dark purplish skins and yellow flesh. The Incas called the potato “papas,” as they do today.
The potato has become a symbol of Irish cuisine, by the 18th century, potatoes were an essential food in Ireland, they were cultivated throughout the country. Ireland’s rainy, cool climate was perfect for cultivating spuds by the thousands, the Irish people ate them almost as fast as they could grow them. This vegetable is so high in vitamins and minerals and was easy to grow, Irish farmers and workers could afford to feed their families on them, and their families grew healthier as a result. Mortality rates in infants went down, life expectancy went up, and the population boomed. Between the late 1700s and mid-1800s, the Irish population nearly doubled in size, due to the potato.
Although potatoes are grown throughout the United States, no state is more associated with the potato than Idaho. The first potatoes in Idaho were planted by a Presbyterian missionary, Henry Harmon Spalding in 1936. His first crop was a failure, but the second year was a success.
The potato is truly a marvel that continues to evolve in the culinary world today, with no limits in sight.
Personally I never get tired of potatoes, so much so that a few weeks back I was going through pictures of dishes for my blog, when I realized I use potatoes a lot.
When I started thinking about which dishes I would re-shoot minus potatoes, it was hard to pick because I loved them all, why reinvent the wheel?
So when I started thinking about what I would write about as a guest blogger for www.therestaurantzone.com I decided to go with a seasonal dish that also wears a comfort food crown, a timeless classic “Potato Soup”, but loaded like a baked potato!
My recipe is easy in spite of the seventeen ingredients, so if you’re a newbie to cooking don’t let that intimidate you, cause this recipe is easy peasy and the bonus?
Ninety minutes from start to finish, so here is my
“Loaded Up Baked Potato Soup”
5 Tbsp Unsalted butter
5 Tbsp Flour
1 Medium yellow or brown onion, diced
6-8 large celery stalks, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces, include the celery heart.
32 oz Low sodium chicken broth, or use your own.
32 Oz Heavy whipping cream
1/2 lb Applewood smoked bacon
3 Cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Tabasco
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp dried or ground oregano
4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 Tbsp Fresh chopped parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste
8-18 Large russet potatoes
16 Oz cooked ham, diced into 1/2 inch chunks
Optional Toppings: Chopped Green Onion, Shredded Cheddar Cheese, Bacon Bits, Sour Cream, Chives, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large stock pot or dutch oven cook bacon on med-high heat, until crispy and fat is rendered off, remove and place bacon to the side.
Drain all bacon fat leaving a thin layer, just covering the bottom of the pot and reduce heat to low-medium heat.
Add celery, garlic and onions and over a low-med heat cover and sweat the veggies until onions just become transparent, remove cooked veggies and set aside
For this next step grab a wire whisk
Next add butter into same pot and melt completely, then add flour and stir mixing the melted butter and flour cooking the roux on low heat for 5-7 minutes.
This cooking technique is called a roux.
A Roux is used to thicken sauces and soups. Pre-cooking the flour will allow the granules in the starches to enlarge and absorbs moisture and will thicken a sauce or soup base.
Next add chicken stock and stir. Turn heat to medium and stir constantly until there are no lumps and there is a smooth consistency and sauce is now thickened.
Add back to pot cooked veggies, and bay leaves, fresh cracked black pepper, oregano and sprigs of thyme.
Potatoes should be somewhat cool to touch, if not use a kitchen towel and you can leave the skin on or remove all skins and dice into bite size chunks.
Add potatoes to pot as well.
If you want to add ham this is when you would add it.
Add heavy cream and adjust salt and pepper.
Turn heat up to low, stirring constantly and cook for 15-20 minutes.
Use a ladle and pour yourself a hearty bowl of homemade potato soup!
Top with the following; Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped green onion, and crumbled bacon.
Don’t forget to grab a loaf of bread, dinner rolls or biscuits to sop the bottom of the bowl.
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