Impress Your Guests With This Wonderful Winter Soup!
Glorious Day, All!
Thanks for visiting! The tea kettle’s on….
I have to admit, my lovelies, that it is a tad exciting to be entering the blogosphere. In this third blog post, I decided to just jump in with both feet and share with you my recipe for a fab soup that’ll knock your socks off! I recently served this delish dish to my friends and co-workers and it earned rave reviews with everyone clamouring for the recipe, so here goes…
Nothing says “WELCOME” quite like a great tasting, toe-warming winter soup. This one is perfect – either as a starter to an elegant celebratory dinner, or the ‘star’ of a home-from-the-pond meal!
Surprisingly, the main ingredient in this rich and creamy creation is the humble potato. It’s easy on the purse, simple to make and looks beautiful in the bowl – an absolute keeper! After you’ve tasted it, you’ll want to add it to your own recipe file.
Potato Soup – 1 recipe makes 8 servings
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium red onions, finely chopped (I use red because they’re sweeter)
- 1/4 cup celery, diced
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups red potatoes, peeled and finely diced (Yukon gold are nice, too)
- 1 cup baby carrots, finely diced (again the ‘babies’ are sweeter and save you the peeling step)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups blend cream (1 dairy container)
Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onions and celery and cook just until tender. Note: Be careful not to brown the veggies; cook only until transparent. Stir in the chicken broth. Add the potatoes, carrots, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Bring to boiling for one minute, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally. Remove bay leaf, then remove the soup from the pot and purée hot soup in a blender or food processor. After the soup is puréed, return it to the cooking pot. Add the blend cream just before serving and heat only to serving temperature. DO NOT BOIL OR SOUP WILL CURDLE. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Note: The ‘purée step’ is tedious but it is well worth the time. I recently found an ‘immersion blender’ at my local ‘Dominion’ supermarket in their housewares section. Simply plug it in and purée the vegetables in the broth directly in the pot – no fussing. The immersion blender essentially acts similarly to an electric mixer and Voila! If you can find this handy gadget, it’s certainly worth the investment (I paid under $20 for mine) and it has become a pure pleasure to make this recipe – sooo easy!
This soup is a hit every time I serve it. I often double the recipe for larger gatherings (16-20 servings). I also make the extra so I can freeze half of the recipe for future use. I sometimes ladle this soup into handsome ivory-coloured cups to make it go even further, as a starter for a celebratory brunch – it’s that versatile.
Garnish each serving with a crisp bacon slice, whole or crumbled. Or, for a more sophisticated affair, steam jumbo shrimp or sear scallops minutes before serving and add 1-2 per bowl.
Either is wonderful! The possibilities for this soup are as endless as your imagination…I usually fry the bacon the day before my gathering – to avoid bacon perfume permeating the air on the day of my event – wrap the cooked bacon in foil and store in the refrigerator overnight until ready to use. About a half hour before serving, I warm the bacon in the foil in a low oven to serve atop the soup.
Earlier this week, for the first time, I added a pan-seared jumbo scallop and crumbled bacon over the top as well. Oh, my! How scrumptiously delicious! I know I’m being redundant but this is sooo goood, really! Read on for some helpful hints on how to perfectly sear scallops without overcooking them, which is often too easy to do.
This soup is an elegant cream colour and I most always serve it in creamy white dishware; hence it is very luscious in appearance, as well as on the lips! It is especially pretty at Christmastime with a white, silver and/or gold holiday tablescape. It looks beautiful, too, in my pink transferware cups that I discovered years ago at a roadside tag sale while vacationing in Nova Scotia! Some Christmases later, my good friend Jean gifted me a coordinating soup tureen that her neighbour had placed in her garage sale!!! I absolutely love it and display it year round atop a kitchen cupboard.
I wouldn’t recommend keeping this soup too long in the freezer. After thawing and reheating on the stovetop (NEVER IN THE MICROWAVE), it may be a little lumpy and you may need to use your handy ’emulsifier’ to purée the soup again before serving to achieve that beautiful, velvety-smooth look.
The Gift of Soup!
This soup makes a thoughtful and cheerful ‘love gift’; especially for a senior, or for someone ‘under the weather’ or going through an illness. Directions: Ladle the soup into a 1 litre glass mason jar. Cover the top of the jar with about a 4″ to 4 1/2″ circular piece of pretty paper or fabric, and secure it to the lid with a narrow elastic band. Tie a ribbon directly over the band to conceal it, just to make it look prettier. Remember presentation is key; and we eat with our eyes, too! How something looks is instrumental in creating ‘the total experience’. Don’t forget to attach a tag that identifies the soup and provides the heating instructions for the recipient. Write on the tag that the soup should only be warmed to serving and NOT boiled or curdling will occur. It is also important to note that it will only keep for up to 2 days in the fridge.
(KEEP TUNED INTO MY BLOG FOR PICS AND MORE STUFF ABOUT SOUP IN DAYS TO COME)
HOW TO PAN-SEAR SCALLOPS
Scallops, in my opinion, are perhaps the most magnificent garnish for Potato Soup. Follow these four steps, and greatly improve your chances of achieving a perfectly seared scallop with the pretty golden crust! Hubby and I recently went to dinner at Atlantica Restaurant in Portugal Cove (I’ll tell you about that lovely experience another time). Our waiter (also a chef) kindly offered me some great tips on how to properly sear scallops without turning them into tiny hockey pucks!
- Rinse scallops and drain well. Using a paper towel, pat them as dry as possible; season to taste with sea salt.
- Using a thin pan, rather than a regular frying pan (I use my crepe pan), heat to high and add about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and vegetable oil to the pan. The pan should be almost smoking before adding the scallops.
- Gently place each scallop in the pan; listen for that sizzle. Be careful not to have the scallops touching and not to overcrowd the pan. Too many scallops crowded in the pan will create more liquid and make it more difficult to sear them properly.
- NOTE: This is a very important step. Once the scallops are in the pan, DO NOT MOVE THEM. Resist the urge to do so. Leave them for about 2 minutes (it will depend on the size of the scallop and the amount of liquid in the pan) without moving them. Once that gorgeous crust has formed on the bottom (you can lift the scallop to check this), flip the scallops and sear them on the opposite side for just 1 minute longer. If the scallops appear translucent (look at their sides), remove the scallops from the pan immediately. They will continue cooking out of the pan for a few more seconds. If the scallop springs back to the touch, they’re perfectly done. If they are stiff to the touch, it’s too late as they’re already overcooked.
I guarantee your guests will sing your praises when you serve this soup, and nearly always ask for the recipe. It is my pleasure to share this recipe along with my ‘soup secrets’ with you. See ya next time. I’ll be expecting you…