Tonight was the first time cooking in a few evenings. Tuesday's are busy for us, with me teaching and Mairin dancing, so I almost never cook on Tuesday. Usually Rob takes the girls to get dinner before dance class and I find something on my own after my own class. This week both girls were sick on Tuesday so we didn't take Mairin to dance. Instead Rob and I ate black bean quesadillas made with some beans I had left from Monday nights pizza, and the girls ate soup from a can (if you can call the few bites they actually got to their mouths eating!!). Tuesday wasn't a completely useless cooking day however. I did make 27 cups of stock that afternoon. My bag of veggie scraps that I keep in the freezer was getting so full I could barely close it, so I decided it was a good time to get them in the pot and get the stock made. I didn't take a picture of it (though Rob said I should have, and I now wish I had). I simmered it for about 8 hours and it turned out so nice, dark, and rich.
Wednesday was my night to have bunco, so again I was off the hook for actual cooking. I decided to have an Italian themed bunco, with vegetarian antipasti and wine. We had bruschetta with tomato spread, sundried tomato crostini, assorted olives, marinated artichoke hearts, marinated mozzarella balls, smoked provolone, plain mozzarella, giardiniera, and sweet peppers. For dessert we had puff pastry filled with canoli filling. It was a bit of a change of pace from our usual bunco food, but it was delicious, and I had plenty left-over for lunch today.
That brings us to today, and the potato soup. It wasn't a particularly good soup day since the high temp today was 84. But, it was cloudy and rainy all day, and by the time we actually ate, a storm had moved through and the temperature had dropped nearly 12 degrees. None the less, the soup was fantastic. Rob and I both ate two bowls. I made the soup start to finish in the crock pot, so it didn't heat up the kitchen, and even better, it didn't dirty a lot of dishes. I'll provide the recipe best I can, but I just did this off the top of my head and didn't really measure anything, so I'm just estimating here.
1 Tbs olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into half rounds
3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
2-3 tsp dried tarragon leaf
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
6 cups homemade or other good quality vegetable stock
2 cups half and half, whole milk, heavy cream, or plain soy milk
Heat olive oil in crock pot on high. Add carrots, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in celery, onion and garlic. Add tarragon, bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Cover and let veggies sweat on high for one hour. Add vegetable stock and potatoes, reduce heat to low and cook for 5-6 hours. Add 2 cups of half and half and continue cooking for another 1-2 hours.
I served the soup with fresh baked french baguette (previously frozen) and apple quarters. I had considered adding some corn starch to the half and half to thicken the soup a little, but it really was perfect the way it turned out (if you prefer a thicker potato soup go ahead and add the corn starch). This one is definitely a keeper for the winter-time "soup library".