I remember as a kid, after Saturday morning chores were done, our dad would take us over to the Cottonwood Complex to go sledding. As a parent I can now appreciate this. When my kids ask to go sledding, my reaction is a little whimpy. ("But it's going to be so cold. Do I even have snow boots?, etc.) It's one of those requests that makes me feel old, because I shouldn't be afraid go and brave the elements. I mean, I've whipped down the mountainside at Mountain Dell on a rickety sleigh and nearly killed someone. I've cross-country skied up Big Cottonwood and down Millcreek. I've hiked up random mountainsides and slid down on garbage sacks. I was pulled on an inner tube from the back of a truck down Lambs Canyon. I even took ski program! And now I don't even know if I have snow boots? Sheesh.
Anyway, Saturdays and sledding always remind me of my mom's potato soup. Made with onion, bacon, milk, shredded potatoes, and lots of black pepper, it was the soup de jour on a snowy Saturday. Because I'm turning into my mom (that's a good thing), I made my version of this soup. I love this soup for it's flexibility and simplicity, and it's so much better than any of the greasy, overly-thickened slime you'd get if you ordered this in a restaurant. Even if your pantry is nearly empty, you should be able to make this.
Cream of Potato Soup
2 T. olive oil
2 yellow onions (or 1 lg.), small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, small dice
diced ham or bacon, to taste (optional) (I used leftover ham from the weekend party)
1 can (or equivalent water and bullion) chicken broth
4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
water, enough to cover potatoes
milk, to taste
cream, to taste (or use evaporated milk or half & half)
roux for thickening, if desired (2 T. butter, 3 T. flour, cook in saucepan 1-2 minutes. Add 1-2 c. warm milk, whisk until thickened, add to soup)
salt and pepper to taste
If using bacon, cook bacon until crispy. Remove and set aside, reserving 1 T. bacon fat for cooking the vegetables. Cook onions, garlic, celery, and ham in oil until softened. Add broth, potatoes and enough water to cover potatoes. Bring to boil and cook potatoes until tender. If you want a thicker soup (see picture) make the roux with the 2 c. of milk and add to soup. Bring to boil to thicken. Reduce heat to low and add as much cream as you want. (I added about 1/2 c. Add more or less to taste.) Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with bacon, if using.