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I’m All Souped-Up – Mm Mm Mm … Cream Cheese Potato Soup

Denise's Cream Cheese Potato Soup

Denise's Cream Cheese Potato Soup

WELCOME    GARDNER NEWS   READERS

Here I go … out on a limb … to declare this to be the best potato soup I have ever made.  And the crazy thing is, this recipe comes from my sister, Denise, whose culinary repertoire includes exactly three items:  lasagna, apple pie and this Cream Cheese Potato Soup.  A pot of her potato heaven made its debut with the family on Christmas Eve a few years back, when she served it alongside ham sandwiches. 

Because cream based soups are so luxurious, many people may believe them to be labor intensive and exhausting.  It has been my experience, that soup making is actually a most relaxing cooking task. Gather a bunch of quality ingredients, artfully place them in a pot in just the right order and simmer low and slow til the flavors marry. 

The foundation for this soup is the combination of baked potato, milk and mild green onions sautéed in butter.  The next layer of flavor is created with the addition of cream cheese and grated parmesan.  Most recipes could stop here with a perfectly tasty soup, but this one goes one step further with a final flourish … crispy pieces of  bacon. 

This soup recipe may be simple to prepare, but it “shouts” to your family and friends that you really know your way around the kitchen!

DENISE’S CREAM CHEESE POTATO SOUP
Creator unknown … she says she got it from someone at work!
Makes 6-8 servings

4-5 medium potatoes, baked (microwave ok), peeled and cube
6  strips bacon, crisp and crumbled
6  Tablespoons finely chopped green onion
4  Tablespoons butter
2  Tablespoons flour (rounded tablespoons)
1 ½ cups water
3  cups milk
1  8 oz. package of cream cheese, cubed and softened
1  cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional green onion and crispy bacon for garnish

DIRECTIONS:
Bake potatoes. (Microwave works well too.  Saves valuable time.)  Cool, peel, cube and set aside.

While preparing potatoes, cook bacon til crispy.  Cool, crumble and set aside. (If you have made additional for garnish set aside separately.)

Over medium heat, sauté green onions in butter, stirring to avoid burning.   (Make sure you use both the white and green part of the green onion.  I like to slice across several green onions at once making my cuts close to each other to form small pieces of onion.  I  use a wooden spoon to stir the onions and butter.)  Add flour and whisk  (Yes, you will have to dirty another cooking utensil.) constantly for about 2 minutes to insure the flour has cooked.  (If you do not let the flour cook out a bit you can end up with a “floury” taste in your soup base that you do not want.)  Next, while whisking, add water gradually.  Whisk well then add the milk and cream cheese.  (The mixture may look a bit curdled at this point.  No worries … it is just the cream cheese breaking up and melting. )  Continue to mix with the whisk until smooth.  Mixture will thicken.

Reduce heat to medium low (the key is not to let the soup boil … just simmer)  and add parmesan cheese, potatoes and bacon.  (At this point, when you stir the soup be very gentle.  You do not want to squish the potatoes!  Again I use my trusty wooden spoon.)   Add salt and pepper to taste.  (White pepper is nice to use with this soup.)  Simmer – do not boil. Garnish with reserved green onion and crispy bacon.

Denise's Cream Cheese Potato Soup

Simmering Soup!

Denise's Cream Cheese Potato Soup

Let's Eat!


ATTENTION ALL GARDNER NEWS READERS :
November 15 is National Bundt Cake Day
Email me (by 11-19 —  we will have a belated celebration)) your favorite bundt cake recipe and tell me the story of your bundt!  I will choose my 3 favorite recipes to bake and test. (Sorry Mom, you cannot enter.)  The winner and their recipe will be featured in one of my upcoming columns.  Heck, we could even bake together at your house and mess up your kitchen instead of mine! 

let.them.eat.cake.debbie@gmail.com

Daring Cooks: Pho Ga and Red Velvet Cheesecake Wontons!

Pho Ga from Steamy Kitchen
Pho Ga … recipe from Steamy Kitchen

 

After reading the Daring Cooks October challenge … I found myself wondering how I was going to make a dish that I had never tasted …  a dish that had ingredients I had never cooked with.  When “reading” recipes, I can normally  “taste” what they are about based upon the ingredients.  But not so with this recipe.  My plan was two-fold … consult the Internet to find information and consult with friends to find Pho!
 

Phở

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Phở is served in a bowl with white rice noodles in clear beef broth, with thin cuts of beef (steak, fatty flank, lean flank, brisket).  Variations feature tendon, tripe, meatballs, chicken leg, chicken breast, or other chicken organs.
  
OK … OK … so far I can relate to Pho … noodles, clear broth, beef, chicken.  I was doing just fine til I read the following:
 
Secret ingredients
In traditional phở, sá sùng (Sipunculus nudus, a species of peanut worm) is added to the broth to sweeten it.  Another scarce ingredient is cà cuống, a pheromone extract from the giant water bug of the same name in Vietnamese (Lethocerus indicus), which is spicy and aromatic. People add cà cuống oil extract to their bowl of phở.
 
TMR … TOO MUCH RESEARCH … time to stop!  (I admit I did go back to the recipe given us by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen and was relieved to confirm that it called for no “secret ingredients”.)
 
Part one of the plan complete … next I was on to the fun part … finding Pho!   Finding  Pho was not hard … everyone I asked raved about the same restaurant called Vietnam Cafe.   It is here that I came face-to face with my first bowl of Pho Ga.   The soup was very fragrant and the broth tasted of the perfect blend of exotic spices … well exotic to me.    Pho had me at first bite!  Now to make it at home!
 
Jaden of Steamy Kitchen challenged us to make Pho.  We could choose to make the quicker version found in her new cookbook  The Steamy Kitchen or if we felt quite “daring” we could make the longer version from a recipe on her blog.  I chose the more daring version!
Jaden says a secret to making great Pho is toasting the spices and charring the onion and ginger used in the broth.

Jaden says a secret to making great Pho is toasting the spices and charring the onion and ginger used in the broth.

A secret in making the longer version is pre-boiling the chicken for about 5 minutes to get rid of "scum and stuff".

A secret in making the longer version is pre-boiling the chicken for about 5 minutes to get rid of "scum and stuff".

Simmering Pho ... smells wonderful.

Simmering Pho ... smells wonderful.

Pho is served with rice noodles, bean sprouts, cilantro tops, basil, shaved onions, lime wedges, sliced chili, Sriracha hot sauce and Hoisin sauce.

Pho is served with rice noodles, bean sprouts, cilantro tops, basil, shaved onions, lime wedges, sliced chili, Sriracha hot sauce and Hoisin sauce.

Pho Ga
Pho Ga

  

RED  VELVET  CHEESECAKE  WONTONS

Red velvet cake, cheesecake filling in a wonton with cream cheese icing for dipping!
Red velvet cake, cheesecake filling in a wonton with cream cheese icing for dipping!

Equipment:
• Small bowl
• Pastry brush
• Plastic wrap and/or damp paper towels
• Wok or medium-sized pot
• Frying thermometer (if you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil temperature by dropping in a cube of bread … if it browns quickly, the oil is ready)

Preparation time: 15 minutes + 15 minutes cooking time (for 12 wontons)

Ingredients:
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
24 wonton wrappers, defrosted (keep wrappers covered with damp towel)
12 circles of red velvet cake   ( I used a 1 and 3/4 inch round cookie cutter.)
Philadelphia Ready-to-Eat Cheesecake Filling
High-heat oil for frying (i.e., vegetable oil, corn oil)
Confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for sprinkling

Directions:

1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.
2.  On a clean, dry surface lay wonton wrappers
3.  Place 1 round of red velvet cake and a dollop of cheesecake filling in the middle of each wonton.
4.  Brush a very thin layer of the egg wash on the edges of the wrapper. 

The first step in the assembly process.

The first step in the assembly process.

5.  Place a wonton on top of the bottom one and gently press to remove all air from the edges. Use a round cookie cutter to create a finished wonton.  Press the edges to adhere the sides if you find any that have come “unglued”.
Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.

Ready to cut into the final round shape.
Ready to cut into the final round shape.

6.  Repeat with the remaining wrappers.
7.  Keep the wontons covered under plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying.
8.  In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2 inches (5 cm.) of high-heat oil.
9.  Heat the oil to 350º F (180º C) and gently slide a few of the  wontons into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the  wontons.
10. Fry the wontons for 1 ½ minutes, then flip over and fry another minute until both sides are golden brown and crisp.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Wontons with cream cheese icing for dipping!
Red Velvet Cheesecake Wontons with cream cheese icing for dipping!
Make you favorite cream cheese icing recipe adding a bit more liquid to make it creamy like a dip.
Make you favorite cream cheese icing recipe adding a bit more liquid to make it creamy like a dip.

THANK YOU JADEN FOR THE INTRODUCTION TO VIETNAMESE CUISINE.

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen.  The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

Taste & Create: Alisa’s Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup (Stew)

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Alisa's Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup (Stew)

 April’s Taste & Create assignment:    partner with Alisa of One Frugal Foodie and re-create one of her posts!

April’s Taste & Create Challenges:   Posting late.  BAD NEWS:  Originally made Alisa’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls (they were a hit).  Took pictures … great pictures … but when I tried to download to my computer …. NO PICTURES.  Surely it was not operator error.   GOOD NEWS:  I made my second choice Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup (had all the ingredients on hand except Miso cause it was my plan to make it this weekend) and I have pictures to prove it! 

Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup / Stew

  • 1 Tablespoon Oil  (Alisa used grapeseed.   I used olive oil.)
  • ½ Medium Onion, slivered (about 1¼ cups)
  • ½ Cup Dry Barley, rinsed  (We both used the inexpensive pearl barley)
  • 2 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced (or about 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic)
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 8 Ounces Sliced Button or Cremini Mushrooms
  • 4 Cups (1 quart) Beef or Mushroom Broth  (I used beef broth)
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste  (I used 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • ¼ -1 Teaspoon Salt to Taste
  • 1 Teaspoon Miso Paste (or simply more salt to taste)  (I did not have Miso paste)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste

Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until they are translucent. Reduce the heat just a touch, add the barley, garlic, and thyme, and sauté for another 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the mushrooms, followed by the broth, tomato paste, vinegar, bay leaf, and I would start with ¼ teaspoon of salt and the miso if using. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow the soup to simmer for at least 1 hour, or until the barley is nice and tender.  Season to taste with additional salt (see Alisa’s notes in the post above) and black pepper to taste.

Yields 2 hearty, meal-sized servings

Mmmm ... Mmmm ... GOOD!

Mmmm ... Mmmm ... GOOD!

When I was making Alisa’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, I asked her to tell me about the coconut oil she used as I had no experience with it.  She was kind enough to respond with a wonderful explanation of the product and how she uses it.  Watch for a future Cinnamon Roll post as my plans are to make them again.   My Taste & Create experience this month has been another great one!   I might never have “met” Alisa otherwise. 

Alisa leads a dairy free life.  As she explains:  “I was born with a milk allergy that I did not outgrow, and thus live dairy-free – in fact, I wrote the book on it].”   Just click on the link to view details of her book.

TASTE & CREATE APRIL:  FINALLY POSTED !