Go with the Flow Potato Soup

or a spoonful of carbs helps the stress level go down (read to the rhythm of the classic Mary Poppins tune..)

This can not be good, there is no way that creamy delicious potato soup can be healthy.  Well, that may be true, but that doesn't mean that we can't at least take the sting off a bit with a couple "healthier" alternatives.  Remember - I only said a couple - but every little bit helps, right? 

I started the adventure with the bone from a pork roast I made a few days earlier.  I had been slowly making stock in the crock pot and was contemplating whether I wanted to freeze it or indulge in the newly arrived Fall season right off the bat with some type of soup.  As you can see, soup won.  So what exactly do you make with pork based stock?  Bean soup?  Split pea perhaps?  Not really in the mood for either, so I thought - what soups taste good with ham?  And there it was - potato!  And why not?  You often find bits of ham or crumbled bacon a top this rich, hearty soup.  So why did all the recipes call for chicken stock?  My guess - convenience.  But regardless, pork stock it was, and potatoes were the flavor of the day.  It's not terribly complicated, don't let the ingredient list fool you, just take it step by step and you'll be fine.

6 peeled and diced golden potatoes
2 leeks, finely diced
6 cups pork/ham stock
1 cup milk
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp dried minced onion
1/2 cup diced slab bacon
1 tsp minced garlic

1. Combine the potatoes, spices (celery salt, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, pepper), leeks, and stock in a slow cooker.Stir well until they all "get familiar" and then let them settle while it cooks on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4.  Now go away.

2. When you are just about ready for dinner, about 30 min or so before, take out a potato masher and work out those potatoes until smooth in the broth.  You'll need to use it to pull the mashed bits from the bottom and sides as you work your way through the pot.  If you like chunks, take a cupful or two out first or simply add some new very small diced potatoes at this time. If you were cooking on low, turn the heat to high.

3. In a small pan, cook bacon with minced garlic and dried minced onion.  Drain the fat and add to the crock pot, stirring to combine.

4. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly until thick and rich golden in color, about 1-3 minutes. Gently stir in milk, as not to allow lumps to form. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.  If you have some clumps popping up here and there just pull out your whisk and break them up with a few times around the pot.

5. Stir the milk mixture into the slow cooker, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately. Season with salt and pepper to taste, top with shredded cheese and sour cream if desired.

(The picture looks a bit orange, but that's more the lighting.  It is a warm, beige color in brighter light)

Well, we took out the cream and replaced it with a roux (flour and butter) so that should help, right?  I couldn't part with the slab bacon, but I'm sure it would still be good if you decided to make it without that as well in the interest of better health.  Now, I used homemade pork stock and it had some additional base flavors from the garlic and onion I cooked with it, so you may find that it needs a bit more of those flavors if you use a pure store bought broth.  

This made a lot of soup, but it turns out that I actually like it better reheated for lunch the next day, so I take that as a win!  Hopefully sometime this chilly weather inspires you to pull out your own crock pot/slow cooker and that you try your hand at this hearty soup.  It's heavy enough for a meal or a perfect compliment to a salad at lunch.  I hope you give it a shot in your own kitchen, with your own little twists, because that's where the true joy comes in cooking.  Enjoy!

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