Friday, November 30, 2012

Bulk-You-Up Potato Soup

Before my husband went into the hospital, he lost a bit of weight and the hospital wanted him to eat high-calorie foods to get some of that weight back on before his surgery. And, they had to be liquid. Pureed soups, ice cream, shakes, puddings ...

When they told me I could bring home-cooked food, my eyes lit up. Finally, something I could do besides fluff pillows, worry, and arrange blankets. Unfortunately, he was put on a ventilator the day before the surgery, so that was the end of my cooking for him, but I'm keeping this recipe handy so I can make it for him when he's again able to handle "real" food.

Since potato soup was on their liquid-diet menu, I decided to make my own version. Trust me, if you're on a diet, you don't want to make this. If you're not on a diet and want to stay at normal weight, you don't want to make this.

But if you need to pack on some weight, this ought to help.

I'd like to point out that it's not heart-healthy, nutrient balanced, or in any other way good for you. It tastes really good, though. And it would be pretty easy to lighten up.

The chicken stock I used was home made, but a good-quality purchased stock would be fine. The one I used was reduced a lot, so it was very flavorful and gelatin-rich. It was also very low in salt - I always make my stocks with just a small amount of salt, because it's easy enough to add that later. That's why you need to taste it as it's finished - if you're using a commercial stock, it might have plenty of salt, so you might not need any more.

I considered adding cheddar cheese to this soup for a little more protein, but I wasn't sure if that would push it over the boundary as far as what's considered liquid. If this was something that I would be feeding him on a long-term basis, I'd look into what sort of supplements I could add. This was just for the short term, though.

Bulk-You-Up Potato Soup

4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock (home made is best)
1 pint heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
Salt, to taste

Melt the butter in a large pot (I used a large saucier from Anolon) and add the onion. Cook until the onions soften, then add the potatoes. Cook for a few minutes, stirring as needed.

Ad the chicken stock. This should be enough to cover the potatoes. If not, add more stock or water to just barely cover the potatoes. It's fine if a couple edges stick out.

Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook, stirring once in a while, until the potatoes are soft.

Take the soup off the heat and let it cool for a minute or two. Add the cream, pepper, and dill weed. Use a stick blender* to puree the soup until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt, as desired.

If it needs to be reheated, do it gently to avoid curdling the cream.

*If you don't have a stick blender, you can puree the soup in a blender. Do it in small batches or you risk having the soup blast out of the blender. You can also puree this in a food processor.