We celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday last night with a soup and bread buffet. Yes, my anxiety-baking has now turned into a habit, and it’s really great to have fresh bread on the table with every meal. This is definitely not on the “No Excuses November” body satisfaction plan. But I digress.
I made two soups, a veggie heavy one and a creamy onion potato one. The veggie heavy one is this terrific Smitten Kitchen sausage and lentil soup, although like usual, I make it the way it suits me (i.e. with what I have on hand and without the steps that require another pan). I pureed my whole tomatoes in the blender, because finding crushed tomatoes is getting harder and harder strangely. I used chopped kale from Trader Joe’s, which is always easier to find than Swiss Chard. And I skipped the garlic-oil-finishing step because, while lovely, it just didn’t make sense for a group of eight and one seven-month-old. Weekday dinners with my this group tend to feel more like sprints to consume nourishment than they do leisurely, properly styled meals with thoughtful accoutrements. Alas, they’re meals shared together and that is special enough.
The other soup I made was really fabulous though, I thought, and oh so rich for a Monday night indulgence. I admit this soup is only easy if you start a few weeks in advance, so stick with me here.
Anytime you make mashed potatoes, make double what you think you’ll need. If you do actually end up with leftovers (a big if, because what sort of terrorist leaves mashed potatoes on the table?), scoop them all into a Ziploc bag and freeze them.
When the spirit moves you, you can make potato soup in minutes with a bag of frozen potatoes.
But if you’re lucky enough to have recently made Food52’s Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese potatoes, you’re really in luck.
I took about 6 cups of leftover potatoes and onions and reheated them on the stovetop over medium heat with about 4 cups of chicken broth.
Then I blended that all together in the blender. An immersion blender would have been the right tool, but I find myself really hard on immersion blenders and as punishment I just scoop things messily into my regular blender and make it work.
When it’s all blended to a delicious, viscous, golden yellow hue with perfect little dots of caramelized onions, I stirred in about one cup of two percent milk to loosen it up a bit and eliminate any gummy texture (gluten in the blender can get a bit gummy).
I grew up watching my mom and dad cook. My mom followed recipes and meal planned before instagram and white boards made meal planning cool (apparently meal planning while grocery shopping is just how one survives and feeds four children. Novel idea!). My dad, we called him, “Short Order Larry,” because he would get into the kitchen with only the vaguest idea what he was going to serve us in 15-25 minutes, or whenever Cheers or Jeopardy! ended. This resulted in meals that are the stuff of family legend, which we’ve never been able to replicate since: Peanut butter soup, some of the best sloppy joe’s of your life, all matter of iterations of “goulash.”
The way he cooked is not usually how I cook. I’m a lot more like my mom. You see the recipes I reference! I show my love through my food, and as such I tend to put a lot of thought into my meals. I say, “I’m sorry” with chili and cornbread, “I love you” with chicken parm. I hope this isn’t like the Victorian language of flowers, where everyone thinks they’re saying “I love you,” but really they just said “Your mother is a whore.” Again, I digress.
When leftovers are in the fridge or freezer, I put on my best Larry face, know that chicken stock and milk usually make everything taste pretty good, and go to town. And I remember how dad uses love in his cooking: It’s the special ingredient that makes everything taste better. Well, almost everything. It never improves egg salad.
Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.