Monday, January 24, 2011

Creamy Potato Soup

Creamy potato soup is one of the last things I can remember my mother making before she fell ill, and it still brings me comfort to this day. It's funny how one views things as a child and then comes to understand them as an adult... Of course, being that my mother had five children to feed, potato soup is something that she could make a lot of and it could be stretched for a few days, so it was something that we had often during the winter months. Even though I understand that now, though, that doesn't mean that it holds any less comfort value for me! It ranks right up there with toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup or sausage gravy over biscuits! I even find a bowl of chili to be quite comforting on a cold winter day...
While everyone's recipe for, and idea of good, potato soup is different, this is what I've come up with that tastes the most like my mother's recipe. Knowing her, I'm sure she just threw a bunch of stuff together, much like I did, so there wasn't ever really a recipe to follow and it was probably a little bit different every single time! Make it your own! :-)

5 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
5 stalks celery, chopped
1½ - 2 lb. diced ham
1 qt. whole milk
½ gallon skim milk
Instant potatoes, optional

Place the diced potatoes in a large stockpot and fully cover with cold water; boil over medium to medium-high heat until the potatoes are fork-tender and then drain well. Set aside.
In the stockpot, combine the olive oil and a couple tablespoons of butter, allowing the butter to melt over medium temperature. Add the onions and cook until translucent, seasoning slightly with salt and pepper; add the celery, garlic, and ham during the last couple of minutes. Add the remaining butter to the pot, allowing it to melt before adding all of the milk. Then, add as many of the already cooked potatoes to the pot as you would like, reserving the rest to mash or rice into the soup to thicken it. If you would like the soup to be a little thicker, you may feel free to add some instant potatoes to the stockpot, adding a little at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

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