Potato Soup

Serves 4 heartily, 8 1st-coursily
Preparation and cook time: 45 minutes (you could probably get it close to 30 if you're not holding a baby part of the time, as I was)
Cost: $2.47
(Red Potatoes--.75, milk--.25, few strips bacon--.75, homemade stock--.00, onion--.25, butter--.40, flour--.02, chicken buillion granules--.05)

A tip for onion: Guess what? Picky eaters don't like big chunks of onion. When I was at my onion-chunk-hating sister's house, she gave me an onion tip. She said to grate the onion. If you do this and then cook it well (you don't want that crispy pop to it, no matter how small--picky eaters don't like that), you'll have the flavor without the texture, which is the thing so many onion haters dislike.

Another note on onion: The garnish in the above picture--it's caramelized onion--turns out I like big chunks, so while everything else cooks, I put some big onion slices in a bit of olive oil with salt and cook them slowly so they caramelize. Then I top my soup with my chunky sweet onions.

A note on meat: I used just a little for flavor. If you like more meat, go ahead and add it. Bacon is my favorite, but sausage is good as are chunks of leftover ham. My bacon was from a pig who is treated more humanely than your average pig. Why? Because we care about our pigs. Anyway, point is (you didn't think I had a point, did you?) that your meat won't cost this much if it's just from the grocery store.

A note on veggies and herbs: Seriously, just throw in what you've got. We often have this with corn thrown in. I meant to put some spinach in tonight, but forgot. Got some carrots or celery; throw it in. I bet it'd be good with rosemary or sage or thyme. Be creative, use what you have, and have fun. That's what soups are about and it's why they're so good and so cheap and so useful to the home cook.

2-4 strips bacon--this is mostly for flavor, not so much to have chunks of meat
1/2 medium onion, grated or chopped
1 clove garlic
4 C diced potatoes (I make mine pretty small)
4 C chicken stock
5 T butter
5 T flour
2 C milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp chicken buillion granules

Cook bacon in stock pot or Dutch oven. Add onion to bacon grease and cook till translucent. Add garlic and cook for a minute.

Remove bacon and place on paper towel. Add diced potatoes and chicken stock. Let cook until potatoes are tender.

In the meantime, melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and mix well. (I use a flat whisk.). Cook for 1 minute and then add milk. Mix well with your whisk. And stir until sauce thickens (you don't have to stir constantly, but it needs to be stirred every 30 seconds or so if it's on medium or medium-kinda-low). This takes about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper or any other herbs you wish to white sauce. (P.S. If you're new to cooking or homemade soup, this is a basic white sauce.)

When potatoes are tender, add the white sauce. You can leave the potatoes in pieces or mash up some of them right there in the pot. I mashed some.

Break bacon into bits and add it. Taste soup. If it is blandish, add 1/2-1 tsp of chicken buillion granules (or whatever secret spice you have).

Garnish with caramelized onions, cheese, sour cream, or nothing at all. And then brace yourself, cause your kids might whine.

Posted by The Tasty Cheapskate