Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dad's Potato Soup

Today is Palm Sunday. We received these palm crosses after the service. When I was a kid my Polish aunts would create intricate weavings from the palms. I couldn't find few examples on the web. This site has some fairly simple, but interesting, palm weavings with directions on how to make them.

I don’t know why I started thinking about my dad. Maybe it was that I was going to make his potato soup because it was Lent. And then I got to thinking about how I could never spot the fresh aspargus shoots as we drove slowly along the fence rows in Willis. “There. Over there. Can’t you see it?” He said. No, I couldn’t. I only just now realized that as an adult I found that I had a little touch of color blindness. It wasn’t severe, only a few degrees off kilter. Maybe it was enough to make the difference between the green stems of asparagus and the brown weeds of winter.
Potatoes are a staple in so many Polish recipes. I especially love homemade potato soup.
I hadn’t made Dad’s Potato Soup in awhile. When I looked at the recipe I had it just didn’t seem right. The recipe called for browning the butter, but I remembered Dad browning the flour not the butter. So I called my sister, Barbara, and she said that I was right, Dad browned the flour not the butter. She had changed the recipe because it was easier. It may be easier, but if you don’t brown the flour it will still be potato soup, it just wouldn't be Dad’s Potato Soup. And he would know.


Dad’s Potato Soup

6 medium potatoes, sliced and cubed
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 quart of water or chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups hot milk or half and half
1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste


Cover vegetables with water or broth (if using broth, reduce the salt) and cook until well done. Drain, reserving liquid. Cool slightly.

Put about half of the cooked vegetables in a blender and puree, adding some of the reserved liquid to the blender.

In a small frying pan, lightly brown the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Set aside.


In a large pot melt butter, stir in the flour, and let the mixture cook until it bubbles and is well blended. Gradually add the hot milk or half and half to the flour mixture and let simmer just below the boiling point until the mixture is smooth and thick.

Add the reserved liquid and vegetables, stir, and let simmer until smooth and thickened.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with pumpernickel bread. Some of the bread can be cubed like croutons and sprinkled on top of the soup.

You can also serve this soup with sardine sandwiches that were one of Dad’s favorites.


Dad's Sardine Sandwich

Sliced pumpernickel bread
Mayonnaise
Canned sardines
Sweet onion
Salt and pepper

Liberally spread mayonnaise on two slices of pumpernickel bread. Slice onion into quarter inch slices.

Cover one slice of bread with onion. Liberally salt and pepper the onion. Add 4 to 5 sardines on top.


Cover with other slice of bread.

Don’t plan on kissing anyone after you eat this sandwich unless they have had one too.


Morel mushrooms were a spring mushroom. At Mom and Dad’s house in Howell, Michigan, my dad found a lot of these in the woods just off the garden. They are a delicacy, hard to find these days. I have never seen a fresh one since those days in Howell.

Find them. Eat them! Enjoy! I wish I could!


Morel Mushrooms

One dozen fresh morel mushrooms
Salt

Rinse and pat dry. Cut off bottom of stems.

Sauté in butter and sprinkle with a little salt.

Wild asparagus is found along roadsides in southwestern Michigan. My dad and my sister, Felicia, were experts at finding them. I never could. Simply delicious!—Adam.

Fresh Wild Asparagus

Several stalks of fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon butter
Salt

Rinse, pat dry and cut into 2 inch pieces. Saute in butter. Sprinkle with salt.

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