Monday, August 15th, 2016
Yes, I realize the temperature outside is 90 degrees…and yes, this is a recipe for warm, creamy soup…but I started this day thinking I was going to have a root canal procedure that would dictate soft food to accommodate a swollen mouth. As I sat in the endodontist’s office, awaiting my turn in “the chair”, I kept thinking about soup…but didn’t want to simply open a can for readily available soup. Knowing that a partially numb face makes eating difficult, I estimated that I would have plenty of time to create something special by the time my “numbed mouth” was ready to eat. Then, after studying an x-ray of my tooth, the endodontist smiled and informed me that I did not need the root canal procedure after all. I left the office with a smile on my face, and a craving for a really good bowl of soup…despite the warm weather!
Arriving home, an inventory of ingredients yielded red potatoes, a medium-sized onion, an ear of fresh corn, fresh herbs from my garden and a bit of heavy cream in the ‘frig. Creating the recipe as I cooked, exciting discoveries emerged with each step of the preparation process. I decided to add small amounts of salt and pepper at each stage instead of waiting until the final blending of ingredients. After boiling the potatoes, I allowed time for the potatoes to “rest” in the pan. As the potatoes sat in their “cooking water”, the potato skins began to separate from the potato, making it easy to “skin” some of the potatoes while leaving a few of the skins to add bits of color and texture to the soup. Another discovery was the thick, fragrant liquid that remained when the potatoes were removed from the pot, and something told me to wait a few minutes before pouring it out…just in case it could be used in the soup. I soon found a use for the “potato water” by adding it to the potato-herb mixture as it was pureed in the blender. Mixed with the potatoes, herbs and sautéed onions and corn, the water brought a smoothness to the mixture that allowed me to use less cream to achieve the richness of flavor I desired. The resulting soup is healthy, with reduced fat and no gluten…but please don’t let that stop you from enjoying the flavor, because it’s really, really good!
Creamy Potato-Corn Soup
½ of a small onion (approximately 2 ounces), finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
kernels from one ear of fresh corn
teaspoon fine sea salt
⅛ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 pound small red potatoes, washed, drained and cut into ½ inch slices
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
enough water to cover the potatoes in the pot (I estimate the amount needed to be approximately 1 ½ cups water to provide 1 ¼ cups of “potato water” remaining after potatoes are boiled)
5 fresh sage leaves, washed, dried and finely chopped (1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage)
leaves from 3 sprigs of fresh tarragon, washed, dried and finely chopped (½ teaspoon dried tarragon)
leaves from 5 sprigs of fresh thyme, washed, dried and finely chopped (1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
¼ cup heavy cream
Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)
1) Heat the butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the diced onion and garlic and the kernels of corn to the melted butter/oil mixture. Sprinkle ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt and ⅛ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper over the onion/corn mixture. Sauté until onions are soft and corn is slightly browned. Spoon the sautéed mixture into a bowl and set aside. Leave the residue from the cooked onions in the Dutch oven.
2) Put the sliced potatoes in the Dutch oven. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt and ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper. Add enough water to the pan to cover the sliced potatoes, approximately 1 ½ cups. Bring the potatoes and water to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to simmer the potatoes. Cook the potatoes until they can be pierced easily with a fork. Turn off the heat under the pan and allow the potatoes and cooking water to remain in the pan, covered, to “rest” approximately 10 – 15 minutes. After the “resting period”, remove the lid and discard the loosened potato skins from the cooking liquid.
3) To puree the mixture, use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes from the cooking liquid, reserving the liquid in the pan. Put the potatoes in the bottom of a blender. Next, sprinkle the chopped sage, tarragon and thyme over the cooked potatoes in the blender. Top the soup ingredients with the sautéed vegetable mixture. Pour ½ cup of the potato cooking liquid over the ingredients in the blender. Place the top on the blender and puree the mixture for approximately 30 seconds until smooth. Remove the plug cap from the blender lid and with the blender on the puree setting, gradually pour the remaining potato cooking liquid in a thin stream into the potato soup mixture.
4) Taste the soup mixture to determine if additional salt is needed. With the blender on the puree setting, add the heavy cream and pulse briefly until blended.
5) Pour the soup from blender into soup bowls. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 3 to 4 meal-sized servings.