Why do I remember having tons of play time when I was a kid? Why do I remember dropping my books in the house after school, then running back outside to romp with friends for eight to ten hours before being called in for dinner, to do homework and then hit the hay?
Surely time has shrunk since my childhood because the oodles of hours that I had aren’t there anymore. It must be like global warming. We’ve abused time so much in the last ::mumble:: years since I was young that it’s slowly decreased one decade after the next.
Take, for instance, today. Dudette got off the bus at 3:20 pm. Her neighbor friend saw her in the yard and asked if she could come over and play. I said yes, of course, for 30 minutes. Thirty minutes. Seriously? Can a real game even be started in that short a period of time?
A half hour later, she was back home and getting ready for Tae Kwon Do so we could leave at 4:30. Of course, changing clothes is a forty-minute job for her. It takes at least ten just to get from the living room to the bedroom. This includes five minutes in front of the bathroom mirror. I’m never sure what happens in there because it stops as soon as my shadow crosses the lintel.
Class is from 4:50 to 5:30 and Dudette is home and waiting for dinner at 6 pm. While I get the meal on the table, she is working on whatever homework she has for the day. Unlike us, who were being taught that eating paste is bad when we were five, she is learning to read and taking a stab at simple math.
Eating is another event takes double the amount of time because our young one does more talking than eating. She has also developed the ability to dance with her backside. I swear the child can’t sit still in a chair for more than 30 seconds. Her butt puts Michael Jackson’s feet to shame.
At 6:30 it’s bath time. Depending on whether her hair gets washed, soaking out the grime from recess, riding the bus and Tae Kwon Do can take from fifteen to thirty minutes. Which takes us right to bedtime, around 7 pm. We all climb up onto the parental bed, do a quick family cuddle, then read a book, say prayers and cart her off to her room to be tucked in. Lights are off and the door is shut by 7:15 pm.
Dudette has been whisked from here to there because there’s less time than there used to be. And it’s our fault for wasting so much of it when we were young. There’s only one thing I can think of to do to lessen its impact; make comfort food.
In soup form.
This is really a very simple process, I promise. Are you ready to start?
Melt butter in a Dutch oven. Melting butter first is always a good sign. Add onion and saute it for a few minutes. The directions will say to add the garlic at the same time, but that’s a bad idea (shame on you Southern Living). Adding tiny bits of minced onion at the same time as big pieces of chopped onion will result in burned garlic. Add the garlic after about eight minutes of sauteing the onions.
When that’s done, sprinkle the flour over the onions and garlic and stir to coat everything. This’ll keep your soup’s base from being clumpy. Add the bouillon cube (you heard me right; a cube) and water and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer while you pull out the bag of frozen potatoes.
If you’re doing a ‘say what?’ about now, you’re on track with how I reacted. Look down further and you’ll see that the ingredient list calls for a package of frozen steam-and-mash potatoes. I didn’t even know that kind of thing existed. It’s just peeled and chopped potatoes in a bag. And a 24-ounce bag costs as much as a ten-pound bag of whole russets. Huh.
Anyhooo, Steam the potatoes in the bag and then add them to the pot, along with milk and pepper. Cook for about ten minutes, then ladle into bowls and add toppings.
The longest portion of this process is in the beginning; sauteing the onions and garlic, then simmering them with the bouillon and water. If you err on one side, simmer longer, not shorter. The flavor depth that is created through this step is essential to the whole soup.
Hubby declared this soup ‘amazing’ after the first bite. I agree. Southern Living is forgiven for telling me to add minced garlic at the same time as chopped onion, to use a bouillon cube and for the whole frozen potatoes thing. This soup is off-the-charts good. If there was any left, there would have been a battle over who would have gotten the leftovers.
Since we didn’t have any bacon in the house, I used some pancetta that I had cut into ribbons instead. I simply cooked it quickly until crisp over high heat. It was a way yummy addition. After his first bowl, Hubby informed me that I hadn’t made enough and he was right. When (not if) I make this again, I’ll double the batch.
Oh, and Dudette, the one with no time and lots to do; she loved this also. Asked for more and ate it up. That’s the seal of approval.
One last thing; I’m not sure why the recipe is called ‘baked’ potato soup when there’s no baking involved, but again, the magazine is forgiven. Because this is so darn fantastic.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I needed to add a teaspoon of salt to the soup to boost the flavor to where I wanted it. Adding the garlic long after the onion is a given, but I would also peel, chop and boil four good-sized potatoes instead of the frozen ones and use three cups of chicken broth instead of messing with water and bouillon cubes. I’m sure the authors thought that the cube would provide enough salt to the dish, but it just didn’t.
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup chopped sweet onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 extra-large chicken bouillon cube
- 1 (24-oz.) package frozen steam-and-mash potatoes
- 2 cups milk
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Toppings: cooked and crumbled bacon, shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, sliced green onions
- Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring often, 5 to 10 minutes or until golden.
- Sprinkle onion mixture with flour, and stir until coated. Stir in bouillon cube and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, microwave potatoes according to package directions. (Do not add butter or milk.) Stir potatoes, milk, and pepper into onion mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Serve with desired toppings.