Time to hunker down and make good old soup

Rob Kasper

January 31, 2001|By ROB KASPER

OLD RELIABLES look good to me at this time of year. Anything that works well in cold weather, whether it is the trusty old station wagon or a dependable soup recipe, becomes inordinately appealing.

Since the outdoors is so uninviting, I probably should spend this indoor season getting creative in the kitchen. Maybe someday I will. But mostly when the temperature drops and the daylight fades, I hunker down and seek the company of time-tested companions, such as homemade potato soup.

I made it on a recent dark January evening. I cook it every winter, and usually print the recipe in this column. The following winter, readers who have lost the recipe call me requesting it. The phone calls remind me that it is time to start peeling potatoes and chopping on- ions. The other night, like clockwork, a voice on my telephone answering machine asked for "that potato soup" recipe. Soon, I was digging through a kitchen drawer for the potato peeler.

I peeled three large potatoes, then sliced them into thin wafers. It was crying time as I chopped the onions, four cups. That accounts for a lot of onions and a lot of tears, but this is soup worth weeping for.

Pulling out a soup pot, I put it on the stove top, tossed in four pieces of bacon and let them cook over low heat for five minutes.

As the kitchen filled with the perfume of sizzling pork, I tossed the onions into the pot and let them saute in the bacon juices for about five minutes. Next came a couple of tablespoons of flour, then four cups of bouillon, and the potato slices.

Then the bubbling began and an hour or more of waiting as the soup cooked over a fire that just barely made the mixture bubble. Over the years I have learned that the longer the bubbling time, the better the soup. The other day, I started making the soup late in the afternoon and couldn't afford to let it bubble for longer than an hour. The hungry horde known as my family would soon be clamoring to be fed. As darkness settled on the city, I put the finishing touches on the soup, stirring in a cup of sour cream combined with two egg yolks. Once again, I let the mixture bubble, stirring it with a wooden spoon to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

After about 10 minutes, the soup was ready. I served it with a green salad and homemade bread. Supper felt familiar, like old times.

Potato Soup

Serves 6

4 slices lean bacon

4 cups chopped onion

2 tablespoons flour

4 cups beef bouillon

3 big potatoes, sliced thin

2 egg yolks

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon minced parsley or chervil (optional)

Saute bacon in a deep pot for 5 minutes. Add the onions and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir in the flour.

Add the bouillon slowly, stirring constantly. Add potatoes and simmer for 1 hour.

Combine the egg yolks and sour cream; stir into soup. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the parsley or chervil, if desired, and serve.

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