When you live without power for eleven-plus hours, especially on a summer day, it tends to have a negative effect on the food in your refrigerator. When you have no power for eleven-plus hours and you have a well, it means you’re living in a water-free house for the duration.
Every time this happens — and it happens at least once a year — we repeat our out-of-power mantra: 1. we really need to get ourselves a generator, and 2. we’re never living in a house with a well again. We’ve been in this house for over 14 years, and 1. still don’t have a generator; 2. have no plans to move. Have I mentioned the view here? Kinda makes it worthwhile:
Once we regained power, we had less than a day to clean the house, replace the contents of the fridge, and prepare an early lunch for visiting family. We opted for sandwiches and chips, but I couldn’t go without making anything. The day was quite cool, so I opted for roasted potato soup: not the prettiest of soups, but easy, fast, and full-flavored.
I roasted some potatoes (skins and all), a large onion, cut into chunks, and six unpeeled cloves of garlic in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. After a quick stir to maximize browning, they went back in for another 20 minutes.
See how easy this is so far? Out of the 40 minutes of cooking time, only about 5 are hands-on. I had plenty of time for fun, exciting activities such as sweeping up dog hair and washing every single item of clothing we own (it’s amazing how fast laundry accumulates in just one day without a functioning washer).
Once the potatoes and onions were golden and tender, it all went into a stockpot with some chicken stock. A quick whirl with the immersion blender, and we have liftoff, folks.
This is not a dish that relies on exact measurements. If you have baby red potatoes, or Yukon golds, use them instead. If you’re lucky enough to have an excess of shallots or cippolini onions, all the better. The roasted garlic in my version adds sweetness, but if you’re currently out of fresh garlic, sprinkle the potatoes with some chopped garlic from a jar. I won’t tell.
All that caramelization lends deep, hearty flavor to what is secretly a healthy soup. Make it vegetarian just by using vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock; a splash of a dry white wine benefits either version. I love the earthy flavor of thyme with potatoes, but you could use rosemary or dill instead.
We love to top it with a dollop of sour cream and some minced chives, but it’s delectable all on its own. You can also stir in some grated cheddar, crumbled, cooked bacon, and/or chopped scallions.
Roasted Potato Soup
makes 8 cup-size servings, or 4 bowl-size servings
4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into cubes (or use any type of potato)
1 large onion, peeled and cut into wedges
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tbs. fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
1/2 cup dry white wine, optional
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
sour cream and chives, for garnish
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spread the potatoes, onion, and garlic cloves on a large cookie sheet and toss with the oil to coat. Spread them in one layer and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme. Roast for 20 minutes. I have a gas oven, so I put them on the bottom rack for maximum browning. Put them on whichever rack in your oven that will ensure a good, golden crust.
Once the potatoes are well browned on one side, Carefully flip each piece so that you’ll get even browning and put them back in for another 20 minutes. Or, if you’re not crazily obsessed like I am, just give them a stir and roast until done. (Yes, I really do turn each piece. It’s my personal brand of OCD behavior.)
When you have achieved golden goodness, set aside the garlic cloves and scrape the rest into a stockpot. Add chicken stock (or veggie stock) to cover and set the pot over medium heat. I like to pour some of the stock on the cookie sheet to loosen some of those great browned bits, then add that liquid to the pot. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins, mash it up a bit, and add it to the pot.
Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so to blend the flavors. (At this point, you could turn the heat to low and let it sit on the stove until you’re ready for it.) For a slightly chunky soup, purée it with a stick (immersion) blender; for a smoother version, give it a whirl in a food processor or blender.
Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Add more stock if the soup is too thick. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.