It doesn't look like much, does it? However, it's like having a loaded baked potato in a soup and quite satisfying. We had about 15 pounds of potatoes to use up because it was such a fantastic sale so for the past two weeks, I've been using potatoes instead of rice at meals!
I've also been reading a bunch of heritage or classic cookbooks (or "cookery books" as they refer to themselves) and was amused to see one that gave prices in 1878. The author was making the case that buying in bulk was cheaper and better than buying piecemeal at the local shop, so she discussed prices and stated that 1/2 barrel of potatoes was $1.50 in 1878 dollars.
The equivalent today? A 1/2 barrel is 75 lb' worth of potatoes. A $1.50, adjusted for inflation to 2009 dollars, becomes $32.95 or about $0.44 cents per pound.
I bought 15 pounds of potatoes on sale at my local megamart for $1.58 -- just 10 cents a pound! Modern agriculture and subsidies are very apparent.
Her original point still stands: buying in bulk as close to the source as you can manage will save you money. I could buy 50 lb of red potatoes off the back of local farmer's pickup truck for considerably cheaper than I could ever buy in the megamart.
But however you get your spuds, this is a good soup to consider if you have a few extra laying around. Spring's here and soon it'll be too hot to have these kinds of soups, so make it before the weather warms up too much!
- 3 shallots, unpeeled
- 1 head garlic, separated but unpeeled
- 120 g bacon ends, chopped (about 1/4 lb)
- 3 - 4 green onions, sliced
- 2 - 3 potatoes, diced (about 1 lb or 450 g)
- 1 cup shredded cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 1 medium-large onion, diced (about 3/4 lb or 340 g)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock (about 750 ml)
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried (or about 3 - 4 sprigs)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
- 1 cup light beer1 or white wine
Dry-roast the shallots in a cast-iron skillet (without oil!) over moderate-low heat for 10 minutes, then add the garlic. Shake the pan regularly and roast until they're soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Some black and brown spots are okay. Peel and/or squeeze the garlic and shallots out of their skins, mash and set aside.
Dice the onion and bacon ends, then fry over medium-low heat in a large pot for about 15 minutes until the bacon is mostly cooked and the onion is soft and turning brown. Add thyme, salt, pepper, Worcestershire or soy, shallots and garlic to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds then add the beer or wine. Add the potatoes and pour in the stock.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes or so. Using an immersion blender2, puree to a chunky puree. Stir in green onions, sour cream and cheese.
- We used Corona, but many beers would be good here.
- Or a blender or a food processor. Just be careful not to overload it.