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 chowder...you 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.