If there is one thing that Don and I really disagree on, it’s how many kitchen props and gadgets I need. The answer is more than I have. And then there’s the storage of said gadgets. So I guess it’s really two things that we disagree on. If I had it my way the counter tops would be clear but I could magically press a button every time I needed my food processor, blender, kitchen aid, toaster, soda machine etc to appear. This is clearly not an option. Instead I keep the most used items out on the counter and the rest I pull out the stepping stool for, climb up and lug them out of high up places, unravel cords and then attempt to place them neatly back after wards. If they aren’t neatly put away one runs the risk of cords getting tangled and a food processor-caused concussion. This was a chore when I wasn’t eight months pregnant…now it’s just a bloody hassle. Don would rather the counters were always clear too (except maybe for his keys, his hat, his ID card, his water bottle and yesterdays lunch Tupperware that uses our counter top as its dumping ground). It’s a big problem for those of us who live in small spaces but demand a well-equipped kitchen.
Recently I’ve been wondering whether my blender deserves a priority spot on the counter top. I’ve been making so much soup it seems to be all I use these days. Unfortunately I haven’t been very good at the writing down the recipe as I go part….nothing but pure laziness on my part and perhaps a pinch of pregnancy brain, which happens to disable ones ability to multi-task. I now know what it feels like to be a man. Perhaps I’ll stop giving Don such a hard time…
Last night I had a moment of clarity and managed to do both. Hurrah! I made potato and bacon soup and then grated cheddar on top because when I woke up yesterday it was 13F in NYC and Don had painted the heating switch shut. Even my neighbours rising heat couldn’t keep me warm and so on days that cold, new years resolutions or not, everyone could do with a little extra padding on their hips to keep them warm. It’s actually really not all that unhealthy- but eating a bowl of potato soup with bacon and cheese makes me think i’m eating a bowlful of creamy mashed potatoes, which gives me feelings of equal parts pleasure and guilt. Lets hang on the pleasure part though. The soup is creamy but sans cream. There is bacon fat but no butter- and really this has got to be better for you than french fries.
With most soups I like to blend everything together- maybe its just how I grew up eating soup but I like how a blended soup brings together all of the flavours in every bite. Unblended soups can have a cleaner, healthier taste but that’s not really what I’m always after. Having said that with this soup I decided to leave a third of it unblended so that there was some bite…more hearty stew than soupy mashed potatoes but still creamy. I threw a handful of spinach in the bottom of my bowl because well baby needs greens but it’s perfectly delicious on its own…even without the cheese.
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Potato, bacon & cheddar soup
Creamy, hearty…..what more could you want?
Makes 10 cups
3 slices of thick cut good quality bacon, sliced (around 1cm thick will do)
2 large leeks, white part and light green only, cleaned and sliced
1 medium-sized onion, diced (1 cm or so thick)
2lbs Yukon gold potatoes (or Maris piper etc) peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
1 garlic clove, diced (about 1 tsp)
couple of sprigs of thyme
48fl oz/6cups chicken stock
Splash of milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Good strong Cheddar cheese, grated to serve
• In a large nonstick pot over a medium heat, cook the bacon until most of the fat has rendered and the bacon is beginning to look crispy (don’t let it get really crispy!) Remove any surplus bacon fat, leaving about 1 Tbsp in the pan.
• Add the leeks, onion and potatoes to the pot and stir together. Cover and let soften for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Remove the lid and turn the heat to medium-high. Stirring every once and a while allow the vegetables to take on a little colour- about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic for 1 minute, stirring to combine,
• Stir in the thyme and chicken stock and bring up to a boil. Turn to a simmer and let simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are very soft. Remove the thyme sprigs.
• Blend 2/3 of the soup in a blender then return to the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add a splash of milk or cream if you would like it thinner. Bring back up to a simmer then stir in cheddar cheese to taste or just serve each bowl with a mound on top that your eating companions can stir in themselves.