Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Faux Creamy, Faux "Recipe": Baked Potato Soup

I say "recipe" because as is typical with my day to day cooking, I didn't really use one, but I can tell you what I did. This makes more or less a double batch of soup, a big stockpot full, enough for eating and leftovers plus plenty to freeze for later.

Faux Creamy Baked Potato Soup
1 head cauliflower
1/2 lb. bacon, diced, plus a few slices extra for garnish if desired (or what the heck, use a full pound if you're feeling naughty)
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 c. white wine, cognac or cider vinegar
3 or 4 quarts chicken stock
1-1 1/2c. heavy cream
2-3 T. fish sauce, soy or worstershire
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1/2" dice.
Salt, pepper and seasonings ( I used about 1/4-1/2 tsp. each of mustard powder, dried rosemary, dill, and oregano, plus a few dashes of cayenne pepper and a grating of nutmeg. Penzeys salad sprinkle is a good choice too, as is Slap Yo Mamma if you want a bit of spicy heat)
Chopped scallions, parsley bacon and grated cheese for garnish

Rough chop the head of cauliflower and steam in 1/2 c. or so of the chicken stock in your stock pot until very soft and tender. Cool for a bit, then transfer to blender one or two cups at a time and puree on high speed until smooth and creamy, adding some cold chicken stock to the jar if necessry to get it to blend. (be super careful blending hot stuff!) I got about 8 cups of puree from one large head of cauliflower. Set aside.

In the same large stock pot, sautee bacon until crisp and remove a few tablespoons worth for garnish. Drain off all but a couple of tablespoons of fat (or bacon was fairly lean). Add celery, onion and carrot to bacon and saute until veg is tender and starting to carmelize. By this time, you should have a nice fond going, aka the stuff stuck to the bottom of the pot...which is good good good. Pull the pan off heat and add the wine, cognac or vinegar. Return to heat and stir to get all that yum up off the bottom of the pan. I also added in the dried herbs and pepper at this point. Add the chicken stock, cream, fish sauce, cauliflower puree and diced potato, simmering uncovered until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. You should have a fairly thick soup at this point, but if the consistency is not to your liking, you can whisk some Wondra flour directly into the hot soup or hydrate a couple of tablespoons of regular flour in stock or water and whisk that in to thicken things up a bit. Or, if it's too thick, add more chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and adjust the other seasonings as you please. Serve garnished with chopped crispy bacon, grated cheddar and chopped scallion and parsley.

Oh, and did I mention it's one pot? It is, although I will say that cooking the potatoes in the soup like I've suggested renders them slightly less tasty than if one took the extra step of cooking them separately in boiling well-salted water and adding them in at the end.

cheers to soup! Let me know what you think if you try it.


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