Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day 2011: Potato Soup And An "Irish" Tale

The arrival of this year's celebration of all things Irish has me feeling a tad wistful and most certainly older. My original intention was to whip up some Irish deliciousness this week but life interrupted with this wretched chest cold that's been cascading through my workplace for weeks. As a matter of fact, K and I are both waylaid at the same time and that's a first in over 11 years. While Kansas City hosts another legendary St. Patrick's Day celebration, Keith's asleep at noon and I barely have enough energy to type this. Sigh.

Ah, well.....I don't have the constitution for those St. Paddy's parties of yore anyway. The novelty of the emerald tongue from copious cups of green beer wore off a long time ago. The Irish beer tasting that Willow Spring Mercantile hosted last week would be more my speed....had I not been sick. I remember Bennigan's, the restaurant chain that had an outpost in the same mall in Charleston, WV had a big St. Patrick's hoo-ha every year that featured a barber's chair where you would lean back to do some kind of green shot......ay yi yi. Of course, my beloved Boston Beanery in Morgantown, WV will be hosting all-day revelry today and that's always a good time.

Denis Leary said that Irish food "isn't's penance." I'll admit that my experience with Irish cuisine is limited to a few dishes that were basically ordered to compliment my glass of Guinness or pair with my Black and Tan. With the onset of illness this week, I just went with that staple of Irish food: potato soup. Potato soup is one of my all-time favorite soups. It was also Dad's....there was little he liked more than potatoes and he loved potato soup. He wouldn't follow a certain recipe but simply load the soup with potatoes and vegetables and hit it with salt and pepper and it was always good and filling. The recipe I went with was Emeril's, from his Every Day's A Party cookbook, and it features an appropriate "bam" of cayenne. This recipe will be at the end of the post and is Cookbook Challenge #32.

The "Irish" tale I teased about actually comes from the seven-year-old daughter of Keith's cousin Jill and her husband Chris. You may remember Caitlyn riding the elephant in my Ren Fest post. On the 100th day of class at the school Caitlyn attends, the students were asked to bring 100 of something to present to the class. Chris put together a bag of 100 lentils for Caitlyn to take. When Caitlyn presented her lentils to the class, she proceeded to tell them the heartwarming tale of how she was adopted from Ireland, what her real last name was and how Chris makes this special Irish candy (the lentils) to remind her of her homeland. Classmates and teacher alike were mesmerized by this touching tale and in fact, when Chris and Jill came to the school, the teacher told them how wonderful they were to adopt this lovely girl. This came as quite the surprise to Jill and Chris, who replied, "She's not adopted and she's not from Ireland." That's right.....NONE of Caitlyn's touching tale was true. Caitlyn's fertile mind concocted the whole thing and snowed everyone, including her teachers. I've always said that child has a serious future in the theater.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone. The recipe follows:

Emeril's Potato Soup (courtesy of Every Day's A Party cookbook)


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
8 cups chicken broth
2 large baking potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and diced
1/4 cup heavy cream


Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, salt and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf and garlic, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat. Discard the bay leaf. With a hand-held immersion blender, or in a food processor or regular blender in batches, process until smooth. Slowly add the cream and stir to blend.


Anonymous said...

LOVE the little girl's imagination! My youngest did a similar thing to us once - and, likewise, I couldn't be upset with him because the story he weaved was so amazing! Oh, and hey, I have an incredible baked potato soup recipe that you simply must have! Make sure I have an email address for you...feel better and Irish blessings for you, my love - Michelle

Kristy said...

No. No. No. Emeril doesn't have it quite right. The ingredients are good (I'll give the cayenne a shot next time I make potato soup) but I swear sometimes I just rue the day the immersion blender was created. As long as I still have two teef (and trust me that's about ALL I have left)I will always want chunks of potatoes in my potato soup. I will have to make you some of MINE when you come home and you can compare. HOWEVAH...variety IS the spice of life and for as many people as there are on this earth who make potato soup, there are that many recipes for potato soup. It's all good!

Confounded Cook said...

Michelle, same to you and I can't wait for the recipe! Kristy, I know what you mean.....I love me some chunky potato soup too. That's how Dad's always was and chunky is still my favorite...

HOWEVAH....I also love me some immersion blending. Butternut squash soup is much better blended and I make my smoothies with it, too. Don't hate the blender, my sister.

Kristy said...

Don't hate the blender. Just think it is overused sometimes. Although I love butternut squash I doubt I would love chunky butternut squash soup. And smoothies? Well there's a reason they call them chunks LOL!

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