Thursday, February 28, 2008

Comforting, Nostalgic and a Little Weird

Today, I wanted to eat SOMETHING but I just couldn't decided what I was craving. I mentally scanned what I had at home, flipped through the numerous recipes in my head and nothing, but nothing, sounded good. It's sooo cold today and I suddenly thought, a comforting and nourishing soup to warm my wee bones. Why, yes indeed!

Everyone has a favorite comfort food; meatloaf, macaroni and cheese etc. My top choice for comfort is a soup my mother has been making since I was a kid. It's a cream of celery soup from one of the Moosewood cookbooks, although I think it's all about the creamy potato base. Actually, I'm a big fan of creamy clam chowder, creamy potato-corn get the picture. But my first love was this cream of celery. I often make this soup and can eat bowl after bowl.

So that was my initial inspiration. I thought about what else I had at home. Hmmm, some fresh spinach and some bacon that was leftover from my quest to make the perfect burger last night. As an aside, I need to work on the burger, especially the burger and the bread. All the toppings though-caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, extra-sharp Vermont cheddar, hot peppers and spinach-were perfecto.

OK, back to the soup. Thinking about a potato soup with spinach could mean a sort of cream of spinach? Then I was reminded of my travels through Peru and the unexpected but delightful creamy soups that graced the countryside. In Peru, most restaurants have a tourist menu and a local menu. Ask for the local menu and you will not only get a more reasonably priced menu, but it is a multicourse menu. Invariably, the first course was some creamy soup-cream of asparagus, cream of spinach and so on. This warmed me right up to Peru.

I call this soup a little weird because I had no cream or milk to add to the soup. So when I pureed it, I added some cottage cheese, which seemed to work pretty well. Then my dad (he lives upstairs) came home and I scavenged some of the heavy cream he always keeps around for coffee. I know, gross. So if I made this again, I don't know how necessary cottage cheese AND cream is but it tasted darn good. I already ate two bowls and am going back for more!

Creamy Potato-Spinach Soup

2-3 slices bacon (optional)
1-2 T butter ( you could use olive oil but we're talking comfort food here)
1 large onion, diced (make sure it's really sweet)
1/2 bunch spinach
3 medium-large potatoes, washed and cut into chunks
water to cover the potatoes
salt and pepper
1/2 c. cottage cheese
1/4 c. heavy cream

Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water, probably about 2 cups. Cook until tender, 15-20 minutes. While that's going, cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp and remove. In the leftover bacon grease, add a little more butter. Just do it, it's only one tablespoon for a big pot of soup. Add the onions and saute about 20 minutes. Add the spinach and cook a couple of minutes. Now put that all together in a blender or food processor, add cottage cheese if that's your fancy, and puree until smooth. Return to the pot, add salt, pepper and cream. Top with crumbled bacon.

Notes: I got one of those sweet mayan onions and it really made a difference. I really recommend getting a good one for this soup. I did add a splash of chicken broth at the end so it wasn't so thick. Also, sometimes I like a completely smooth soup and other times I like it a bit more rustic. So you could puree the whole thing or reserve some of the sauteed onions to stir back into the soup at the end. Either way, it's fantastic.


karima said...

Cottage cheese!? In soup?! That's a new one for me. But if you endorse, I'll try it.

HLP- other half said...

u sho can make somethin out of nothing, dear.. and i am a BIG fan of the mayan onions.. sweet and red are typically the only ones i buy, so u've got my stamp of approval!

Sukirules said...

I love puttin tons of parm in the meat when I'm making burgers. Makes em so jiucy and yums. Throwing in P. Prudhomme's Meat Magic doesn't hurt, either. Mmm....... Burger........

Live.Love.Eat said...

I decided to go back a bit into your blog because I never really had a chance. It's cool to read about you! And this recipe sounds great. I am putting it on my sidebar list of things to make.