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Skipping Through Life (quick potato soup)

4 May

I have set a new goal for myself.

Each week, I want to find at least one way to simplify my life — by skipping something.

I might skip an entire task, or just one step from a complicated one.  I might skip an ingredient in a recipe, if I don’t have it and I don’t feel like driving to the store.  Frankly, sometimes I find that a recipe is better without the missing ingredient!

I already thought of something to skip this week, but I promptly forgot it again.  Forgetfulness doesn’t count as simplification, in case you were wondering.  Now I need to think of something else to skip…

In the meantime, I will share an example from the past.

I love potato soup; my mother made some great soups, and that was one of her specialties.

Please note:  My mother is alive and well, but she doesn’t cook as much these days, which is why I am speaking of her in the past tense in this particular context.

My mother used a fairly long process to make her potato soup, including using an old hand cranked food mill to break down the potato pieces.  This food mill was some kind of antique; as an adult I combed antique stores until I found one like hers.  I believed that this device was somehow key to the potato soup making process.

In recent years, it occurred to me that my food mill took too long to use, and far too long to clean.  I got rid of the food mill.  First, I switched to my modern electric food processor… now I use only a spoon! 

What could be easier to clean than a spoon?

I skip a step in the potato soup making process, thus making a spoon as useful as a food processor.  I cook the potatoes directly in the chicken stock, instead of combining the two after cooking the potatoes, as my mother did.

I slice the potatoes, chop some onions, and dump them all into a pot with some chicken broth, salt, pepper, and whatever other seasoning I may be craving on that day.  Then I boil until the potatoes are just soft enough to crush and crumble with a wooden stirring spoon.  I add a little bit of half-and-half  for creaminess (if this ingredient is not handy, I might skip it!  Who needs the fat?) and serve the soup with a topping of cut chives.  Sometimes, I substitute green onions for chives, but chives are really the best for potato soup.

My methods can alter the texture of the soup, leaving it a little starchier, but it tastes just as good.

By skipping steps, I can make a quick batch of soup for one or two people, in only one small pot, using only a vegetable peeler, a knife, a cutting board, and a wooden spoon.  The clean up is a breeze.

The cold, hard truth is that if I had to make the soup the way my mother made it, I probably would not make it at all. 

I would skip it.

No wonder my mother doesn’t cook as much as she once did…she’s skipping it, too.

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20 Responses to “Skipping Through Life (quick potato soup)”

  1. bigsheepcommunications May 4, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    Anything that gets me out of the kitchen faster has got to be a good thing! Love the idea of skipping things on purpose.

    • acleansurface May 4, 2011 at 10:25 am #

      Agreed, Big Sheep. I have spent hours cooking special items before, and they were great, but were they so much greater than the things that took less time that it justified the extra effort? NO. I like good, fresh, homemade food, but it can be quick and easy instead of elaborate.

  2. dlw May 4, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    mmmm…soup…

  3. Dianna May 4, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    dlw stole my comment!! Mmmm – love potato soup! I can almost smell it while reading your post.

    • acleansurface May 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

      Thanks, Dianna. I am actually craving one of my mother’s other soups right now, the spicy one with the meatballs. I need to get the recipe for that one!

  4. reelingintheyears.wordpress.com May 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    My Mom’s in the same state, unfortunately. But isn’t so liberating to make up your own version of a recipe? I went to see some of the Food Network chefs at a Food Show this past weekend, and they said they do the same thing all of the time–very creative!

    • acleansurface May 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

      My Dad took over most of the cooking after he retired, Reelingin. I am fortunate to have two good cooks for parents. I do like experimenting in the kitchen; you are so right that it is liberating.

  5. Aligaeta May 4, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    I love red potatoes. I cook them with the skin on then just hit each potato with a masher and the skin separates, NO peeling 🙂

    Nice post.

    • acleansurface May 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

      That is a great way to skip the peeling, Aligaeta! (It works for garlic too, just flatten it a little to separate the skin.) I leave potato skins on for many things, but not for soup.

  6. charlywalker May 7, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    I love potato soup. I am not a creative cook. I am an absolute cook. calls for a lot of vodka…..

    seriously, can you post the exact measurements? That I can follow..

    Love this post!

    • acleansurface May 7, 2011 at 10:55 am #

      I’m glad you liked it, Charly. I will get back to you on the measurements. I actually skip the measuring part, too, haha! I just “eyeball it’, but I will pay more attention next time I make it, so I can note the amounts just for you. =)

  7. somethingnewplease May 8, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    Your post has just made me realize that I always try to skip things to make days go by easier. The unimportant things. I should be more cognizant of this.

    I’ll promise not to skip showers, however.

    • acleansurface May 9, 2011 at 10:22 am #

      I will hold you to that promise, Somethingnewplease!

  8. pegoleg May 9, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    I was also thinking that the part I would skip is making it at all. But your/your mom’s recipe sounds much yummier than the red-and-white can version.

    • acleansurface May 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

      Ugh. I don’t like most canned soups!

      • gmomj May 11, 2011 at 5:51 am #

        Canned soups no never never never!
        This is how I cook. Eyeball (not in the soup) and taste. Works just fine. Love family recipes. Your mom’s soup sounds wonderful. Simple and wholesome. What more could you want? Will try this weekend. Thanks.

      • acleansurface May 11, 2011 at 10:54 am #

        That is how I often cook, also — but I think it only works for those with good natural cooking instincts or past training in cooking. I grew up helping my mother in the kitchen, and I learned so much just by observation. However, I know that some people need a very specific recipe.

  9. mysoulforsale May 29, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    This is excellent advice. Can I skip going to work? That would make my life feel a whole lot simpler!

    • acleansurface May 30, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      Thanks, Mysoulforsale. No, I think you might be able to take a “sick day” from work, but if you just stop going your life will actually become more difficult!

      • mysoulforsale May 31, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

        Haha… you’re probably right!

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