Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow and Soup

So we had the first major snowfall of 2011 here in Northern Virginia last night.  I think it was about 10" or something. The roads were a mess and many of our friends and family were trapped for hours in non-moving traffic because of people having to abandon their cars in the middle of the roads, running out of gas, getting stuck, or just giving up on getting home.  Even my dad ended up staying the night at our house because he couldn't take anymore driving after being on the road for almost 6 hours to get from DC to Sterling, and he lives another (normally) hour drive further out from my house! What a messy nightmare!

And yet, in the midst of all that treachery, we took a moment to admire the stillness and beauty of that thing which was making so many people's lives so miserable.

It was a good thing I decided earlier that day to make some hot homemade soup! Only my second soup I've ever made (the first being a pumpkin bisque I made last year, sadly, long before the conception of my food blog).  This time I made a French Onion Baked Potato Soup.

In honor of National Soup Month, I've been dying to make a good hearty soup that even my non-soup-loving husband would enjoy.  When I asked him a couple weeks ago, what kind of soup I should make for him, he suggested baked potato soup.  So I began the hunt for a thick warm stew-type soup that would satisfy the hungry beast within him.
my poor little bird feeder...sorry birdies!

Lo and behold, I came upon several recipes that stood out to me.  A couple potato soups and a couple French onion soups (hubby LOVES the French onion soup at Mon Ami Gabi, one of our favorite local restaurants).  So which one do I choose??  I decided to do what I always do in this situation...I chose both kinds!!  Why do I have to choose just one soupy delight?  I can have them all by stealthily combining the recipes using bits and pieces of each to create my own masterpiece!

Well, maybe not a masterpiece but at least a darn good soup.

I will say, though hubby was very pleased with the outcome, I thought it maybe could've used a little more seasoning and I wish the flavor of the onions came through a little more (so if anyone has any suggestions??) but all in all, it did turn out pretty good and was a perfect way to welcome, or curse, the snow!

3 cups chicken or veggie broth
1/2 onion
3 TBsp butter, plus butter for sauteeing
3 Tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups of milk (or 1 cup milk & 1/2 cup heavy cream)
3 tsp herb/seasoning (I used rosemary and garlic powder)
5 small potatoes
1 cup bacon
1 cup mushrooms
4 thin slices of sourdough bread
butter for spreading on bread
sliced and/or shredded cheese of your choice for topping
(This makes about 4 servings)
yummy very thick bacon from local farm, Chicama Run

Cook bacon and cut into pieces. (If you want good crisp bacon without a mess or fuss, bake the slices in the oven at 400 for about 15-20 depending on the thickness of the slices).  Preheat saute pan and melt butter.  Chop onions and mushrooms and add to saute pan on low heat.  Cook until onions begin to caramelize.

Pour broth into large pot. Chop potatoes and boil in broth until soft.  Ladle 1/3 to 1/2 of potatoes (depending on how chunky you want your soup) with some broth into a blender and blend until smooth.  Then pour into a crockpot along with the rest of the potatoes and broth. Turn the crockpot on low just to keep soup warm until serving. 


In same hot pot already used, melt butter and add salt, pepper, and other seasonings.  Slowly add flour, stirring out lumps.  (Note: the flour may be a step you could skip if you don't want the soup to be super thick as mine was) Pour in milk/cream and stir until thick and bubbly, being careful to keep it from burning on the bottom.  Add bacon, onions, and mushrooms to milk mixture.  Then add milk mixture to potatoes in crockpot.

When almost ready to serve, spread a thin layer of butter on sourdough slices as well as a few thin slices of cheese, and lightly toast until cheese is melted.  Spoon soup into 2 large bowls.  Place one toasted sourdough slice on top of soup in each bowl and shred more cheese on top of that.  If your bowls are oven-safe, place on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at 400 just until top cheese is melted.  If not, you can also place the bowls in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds to do the same thing. Place bowls on small plates and serve remaining sourdough slices on the side.
very thick and chunky

ooh, melted cheese
hmm, needs more cheese
that better!

Another note: The soup is very thick and hearty. And if there's plenty for leftovers the next day, be prepared to reheat it a little extra-long because it will be almost as thick as mashed potatoes! Enjoy!
P.S. If you want to check out the original recipes I borrowed from...


  1. Ah yes. Josh felt the same way about soup, always saying they never filled him up. Then I made black bean soup and accidentally reduced it too much and it became a thick dip which he loved...Thankfully I've slowly changed his mind about soups, but I always have to serve it with a slice of bread!

    As far as bringing out the onion taste, perhaps use more onion (when you caramelized them you never end up with as much as you started), and cook them separately from the mushrooms. Cook low and slow with a pinch of brown sugar and slowly caramelize them, could take about an hour, but the flavor is amazing! Remove the onions from the pan, add the mushrooms and cook them until they have caramelized. Use some wine to deglaze the pan scraping up any brown bits and reduce the wine by at least half concentrating the flavors. And continue with the recipe...hope that helps!

  2. Donna, you and Edgar HAVE to try Passionfish right behind Mon Ami Gabi. Emily and I went last night, and I had what I believe was the best sushi of my life. Most of their other dishes looked pretty amazing (albeit pretty pricey), but apparently if you hit them up between 4 pm and 6:30 pm for Happy Hour, all their apps (which I believe includes sushi) are five dollars.

    My Captain Crunch roll was fantastic. It was tempura shrimp and avocado rolled in little crunchy flakes. It was gigantic--one roll was like ten HUGE pieces.

    Next we want to try Mon Ami Gabi since we've never been.

  3. Meg, wow, thanks for the tips! I'll have to try that next time.

  4. Tierney, Passionfish sounds great. I don't think I've ever paid much attention to them. But I'm sure we'd like it.

  5. Oh Donna, that reminds me of the blizzard that we had here. I was lucky enough get back home in 3 hr. Only if I had this soup waiting after that long drive. But looking outside looks like today is the day to give it a go.