Sunday, June 29, 2014

Potato soup - a 'soup'er bowl of potatoes for a hearty, healthy soup

Didn't I just talk about Summer and summer solstice in my last post? I did and showed you pictures of gorgeous summer too. And yet here I am with a soup recipe which is typically made on a cold day. Well, that is typical of where I live and one of the reasons I love this place. Summer started off bright & cheery last week but then the weekend has gone back to the old ways of gray skies and occasional showers bringing the temperature down a bit and making you crave for something warm & hearty. While pongal/huggi/khichdi is my all time favorite comfort food, a hot bowl of soup with a side of good, crusty bread brings a smile to the faces in my family and it saves a lot of time and effort in cooking, a win-win for a week day dinner. Less cooking, less cleaning and everyone is happy :-). And then it is perfect for the weekend before the travel when you are trying to finish up those last remaining pieces of vegetables and the potatoes in your pantry.
Did I say travel? Yep and now you know the reason why my spirits are high and the grin won't stop quickly even on a cold, cloudy day. I am off for a vacation in a couple of days and excited beyond expression, looking forward to seeing family, sitting down holding hands together, eat a little , talk a lot and do everything you do when you go home. So my posts will be somewhat infrequent but I will keep increasing the size of my pictures folders and draft posts until I can sit down and polish them nicely for presentation. Happy Summer everyone, keep talking, stay healthy.

I have been exploring the Seattle downtown market area on my way to & from work whenever possible and have found many hidden treasures by way of small, local businesses. There is a bakery called '3 girls bakery' in the market area which bakes and sells fresh bread. If you go towards the evening, they are almost always out of bread which kind of indicates they make bread fresh daily :-). I have got a few French baguettes, a super hearty whole wheat raisin bread which have both become our favorites. But we all love their mini sour dough breads, they are just the right size for us if we share and works as a beautiful soup holder for soup of any kind.
Soups are not common in Indian cuisine, I tasted them only after we moved here and what a variety of soups there is if you love the feeling it creates as the hot spoonful goes down the throat and lights up a tired body on a cold day. Yumm! I used to think there were not many vegetarian soups available but since the time I started making soups I have experimented with different vegetables and spices/herbs to create soups that we all love. If you love veggies and herbs, there is no limit to the number of soup variations you can create.

I have a few soups already on the blog (check out the recipe index for links) but today's is an especially creamy and delicious soup with crumbly bites of potato chunks and broccoli that will make you feel rested as you gulp down a bowlful (or a breadful :-)). I first tasted this soup in an office party, a colleague had brought this for the vegetarians in the group. I took a small serving hesitantly but went back to it eagerly for a second and third time. While you can eat it paired with any bread, sourdough makes a great combination as it lends that tangy taste to the slightly bland soup. And it is super easy to put together and can be customized to taste.

Now that the monsoons have reached most parts of India and while the weather is still mild in most parts of the USA, this soup makes a wonderful dinner with minimal work. I have used fresh oregano in this recipe as I have a plant that is really growing wild :-) but you can substitute with dry oregano. Go ahead, give it a try and let me know how you liked it. We kicked off our weekend last Friday with this yummy soup in a sourdough bowl and polished it all up nicely.

What do you need to make potato soup?
3 medium sized potatoes
1 small piece of broccoli (optional but recommended)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove of garlic (increase it if you like the flavor)
1/4 cup of chopped celery (optional, I like the flavor in my soups)
1 Tsp olive oil
1/2 cup milk
1 Tsp freshly ground black pepper powder
10-12 leaves of fresh oregano or 1/2 Tsp dried oregano
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
pinch of dry mango powder/amchur powder
How do you make potato soup?
  • Wash, scrub and chop the potatoes into bite sized cubes. If using yukon gold or red potatoes (which have thin skins), I like to leave the skin on. 
  • Chop broccoli into small florets.
  • Chop onions and celery (if using).
  • Heat a stock pot or soup pot on medium heat, add olive oil. 
  • Add the chopped onion and let it sweat for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add the celery and broccoli and stir fry them for another minute. 
  • Add the potato pieces and continue to fry for another 2 minutes until the vegetables get coated well with oil and start to soften. 
  • Add salt, 1/2 Tsp of black pepper powder. 
  • If you are using dry oregano add it at this stage along with 3 cups of water. 
  • Cover and let cook for 8-10 minutes until potatoes turn soft. 
  • If you are using fresh oregano, add them after potatoes turn soft. 
  • Simmer the stove, scoop out most of the vegetables into a blender jar, leave some potato and broccoli pieces for bite.
  • Make a smooth paste of the cooked vegetables, return them to the pot. 
  • Add milk, adjust salt, pepper to taste and let it come to a boil. 
  • Switch off and serve hot soup with bread or crackers. 
  • I had a baby, sour dough bread I had bought, we used that as the soup holder. Rich, delicious soup with equally yummy bread made up for the rainy evening dinner. 
Notes: 
  • You can add chopped carrots to this recipe. 
  • You can use butter instead of olive oil for more flavor and ofcourse more fat :-)
  • If you want a vegan version, replace milk with almond or cashew milk.