With all the heavy stuff going on around, I wanted to bring things back to what this blog is supposed to be about for a while. So here is a food post for you to enjoy!
There’s nothing quite like a hearty bowl of thicksome soup on a cold winter’s day! Most of our cooking falls half way between “this is how you make a thing” and, “let’s use whatever’s in the fridge or cupboards at right now and wing it.” So here is the approximate recipe for this soup. Quantities are pretty flexible. This is one of those soups that taste better the next day, so I made a huge pot of it this time.
Bacon, cut into small pieces – I used half a package of sliced bacon
Onions, 2 medium, finely diced
Garlic, several cloves, chopped fine. I like to use lots of garlic, but use however much you fancy
carrots, peeled and finely diced. Three largish carrots was what was used this time. Feel free to include other vegetables, like celery, broccoli, etc. For a large quantity of soup like this one, shoot for a total of 2 – 2 1/2 cups of finely chopped or diced vegetables.
(In this soup, I also added about half a cup of our frozen tiny tomatoes. It is not something we normally use in this soup, because tomatoes and I don’t get along. 😀 )
potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 – 1/2 inch cubes. For this soup, I like to include different sizes of potato cubes, because I want the smaller cubes to overcook and basically dissolve into the soup, to make it thicker. For this batch, I used about 6 large-ish yellow potatoes.
egg noodles, or other pasta in shapes of a similar size
cooked chicken; we used canned chicken, drained, but this would be a good way to use any leftover roasted chicken or turkey.
cream, about 2 cups. We use whipping cream, because that’s pretty much the only cream we buy, but a lighter cream would work, too
shredded cheese – sharp cheddar is always good, but any strong flavoured, shred-able cheese will be wonderful
dry mustard powder, about half a teaspoon, or to taste. A prepared Dijon type mustard can be used, too.
herbs of choice, to taste (we almost always use a combination of ground thyme, sage, paprika and parsley. If we aren’t using fresh garlic, we’ll use garlic granules with the herbs)
salt and pepper to taste
chicken stock, water, or water with bouillon cubes/powder. I usually use bouillon cubes, and less than recommended for the amount of water used, because herbs, salt and pepper are also used. You can always add more seasoning, but you can’t take it out!
optional garnish: sour cream and shredded cheese
Start by cooking the bacon pieces in a large stock pot. If they seemed to be cooking unevenly, add a bit of water, which will help render out the fat more evenly, and deglaze the bottom so it doesn’t burn. Cook to desired doneness. I like it on the crispier side.
Next, add the chopped onions and cook until the onions are softening and starting to become translucent.
Add the carrots and garlic. Stir and cook until the carrots are about half done. If using other vegetables as well, add the longer cooking vegetables in first.
Next, add the potatoes, bay leaf, herbs, salt and pepper.
Add enough water or stock to cover everything. Since I was using bouillon cubes, I added them at this point, too. I like to chop them up a bit, so that they dissolve faster.
Stir well, then bring to a boil.
Once the liquid has been brought to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for the time needed to cook the potatoes, minus the time needed to cook the egg noodles or pasta. So if the size of potato cubes you cut need 20 minutes, and you’re using pasta that needs 8 minutes to cook, simmer for 12 minutes.
Because I wanted to deliberately overcook the potatoes, I simmered mine for 15 minutes.
Stir in the egg noodles. This was an entire small package of egg noodles. I don’t remember the weight on it.
Add more water as needed. To keep it from cooling down too much, boil some water in advance and use that while it’s still hot.
Stir in the canned or cooked chicken.
The tiny frozen tomatoes were added at this point, then the soup was brought to a boil again.
These are the super tiny Spoon tomatoes, and some cherry tomatoes, we grew last year. Their tiny size allowed them to be added at this stage, but if we were to use regular sized tomatoes, they would have been added with the carrots, much earlier on.
Bring to a boil, then simmer until the noodles are done. Remove the bay leaf.
Stir in the cream and mustard powder. Bring the heat back up and simmer just long enough to heat the cream through, stirring continually. Turn off the heat.
Taste and adjust seasonings.
This is the soup after the cream and mustard powder has been incorporated. You could skip the next step, if you like a thinner, chunkier soup.
Or, you can partially blend it. I have an immersion blender, which makes easy work of it, but if you have a countertop blender or food processor, use it to blend about half of the soup, then return the blended soup to the rest in the pot. Stir and, if necessary, reheat until it’s hot enough to melt cheese, then remove from heat.
Add in a good handful or two of shredded cheese and stir until thoroughly melted and incorporated.
Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of shredded cheese, if desired.
This soup always goes over really well, even with my lactose intolerant family! It’s thick and hearty enough to be the main course, with maybe some buttered bread to go with it. If you like an even thicker soup, use more potatoes, and blend it more at the end.
I think I’ll go for seconds, now…