Monday, June 1, 2009

Potato Soup - Souper Cheap Meal!

My family has never been wealthy. Most of the meals I remember best from my childhood were simple to make, required very few ingredients, and are still very accomodating for any budget. My grandparents survived the Great Depression - as working adults who had to watch every penny. During my early teen years I spent a lot of time with them, and it made a huge impression on how I spend my money (which means I usually don't if I can go without) and how I cook. The following recipe is one that's been in our family for longer than I know. My grandmother was Swedish and Scots-Irish, so take your pick - it's probably originates from one of those!

Potato Soup
4-5 medium potatoes (one per person usually works well if you want to make a smaller or bigger batch)
1 medium onion (white or yellow), diced, or 1/3 cup dehydrated onion flakes
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup flour
baking soda
1 egg
milk - about 3 to 4 cups

Peel & dice potatoes, about 1/2 - to 1 inch cubes. Put in large pot, add water to cover by 1/2-inch. Add onion, about 1 tsp salt and about 1/2 tsp black pepper. Turn heat on high, until the water is at a full boil.

While the water is heating up, prepare dumplings as follows:

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup flour, a little salt (see photo - I hardly ever use measuring spoons. this is about 1/4 to 1/3 of a teaspoon or so), and a pinch of baking soda.

See this next photo - this is how my mother taught me to measure the baking soda: just a little on the end of a fork handle will do. I just happen to have flatware that is similar to what Mom had! I'm guessing 1/8 teaspoon would work fine.

Add 1 egg to the flour, salt and baking soda, then mix together until the dumpling mix is the consistency of big crumbs; it should look like this:

By the time you are done preparing the dumpling mix, the potatoes and onions should be boiling.

Once this is at a full boil, add 1 stick of butter and enough milk so that the soup looks more like milk than water. I never measure this, as I was taught to do this by sight - which is why the pictures are necessary! If I had to guess, probably about 3 cups of milk go into the pot.

If you add less milk than is needed, your soup will be very thick and can be thinned with more milk later. If you add too much milk and the soup is too thin, a little more flour or a little mashed potato flakes will thicken the soup - and no one will notice (trust me - I know!)

Bring the soup back to a boil, then stir in dumpling mix. Clumps are good - those will cook into dumplings; I don't recommend leaving clumps larger than an inch or so in diameter, as the larger ones will not cook through as quickly as the others. After the dumplings have been thoroughly stirred into the soup, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the dumplings are tender and cooked all the way through.

If you choose to add other items to the soup, the last 20 minutes is the time to do so. Additions aren't traditional, but some people like a little more than potatoes and dumplings in their potato soup.

Some good additions are ham, chopped roast beef, sauteed garlic, mushrooms, and/or whatever vegetable you like. This is a good way to use up whatever leftovers you have in the fridge that might not be enough to serve an entire family. Cheddar cheese sprinkled on top makes this soup really good, too. We've always served it without the extras, adding a pat of butter to the top. If you like the soup a bit thinner or need to cool it, just stir in a little milk.

Of course, when serving homemade soup, don't forget the crescent rolls!

1 comment:

  1. I am ready to eat and I know what to make for supper. Thanks


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