I hear you out there, talking to me about sweaters and boots and bonfires, trying to buoy my spirits with cider and pumpkin spice. You’re barking up the wrong tree. I’m a summer girl, January birthday notwithstanding. Give me baseball, long days, hot heat, and secular holidays. This winter stuff is for the birds, specifically cardinals.
That said, I’m silver-lining oriented, and my personal favorite thing about the oncoming cold is predictable but earnest: It’s soup, y’all.
I love soup, and my love is well-documented. It is my sincere belief that a great chef can be measured by his humblest soup. There are a few soups that stand out in my memory: Ryan Wheeler made a chilled fennel soup that I still think about pretty much every time I see fennel. One of my old chef instructors, Gallagher, made a soft, clean consomme that I have yet to reproduce. And as I’ve opined on more than one occasion, The Wildflour in Roanoke can’t make a bad soup. Try the gazpacho, no the Hungraian Mushroom, or maybe the potato feta.
Of all the soups I’ve loved and made, this would certainly be the humblest, with a scant 4 ingredients: potato, onion, water, half & half (plus salt and pepper, clearly.) And if it were the soup by which I were to be judged, I’d be fine with that. It’s sturdy, practical, adaptable and only gets better with time.
No need to get fussy with the recipe. Just peel and dice a bag of potatoes. Dice one large onion. Combine them in a large stock pot, and just cover with well salted water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and maintain a steady (but not crazy) boil until the potatoes are sans resistance. Mash with a potato masher or perforated metal spoon. Leave some chunks. Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of half & half (or milk) and pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
And there are as many ways to guild the lily as there are spoons. Celery salt, green onions, cheeeeese. The only real requirement in my book is a formidable bread for soppin. I’ve recently discovered that Norwood Cottage Bakery’s Rosemary Feta bread is such a bread, as would be pretty much any of them. Tomorrow, I’m going to take some roasted brussel sprouts and ham and add them to my soup, and I bet it’s going to be awesome. Maybe I’ll post a picture! That would be fun.