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Pan-Fried Potato Creamy-Cheesy Peasant Soup

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A Home-Reared Chef!
Cook by Instinct, Recipe #25!

In my previous writing I have many times mentioned that I learned to cook the old way, (traditionally) by instinct, for that was the only way to learn then. I was about seven years old when I showed an interest in the kitchen and cooking—and not just eating—and I began my lessons by hanging around and watching my grandmother’s cooks in her very large kitchen, growing up in San Salvador, El Salvador.

My grandmother, Marta Roa, was married to a very wealthy diplomat; he was [then] the countries’ Treasurer (a position he held for many years), and so they quite frequently entertained, and entertained people of high society and of great influence. So I believe that I had a very good foundation for learning to cook and knowing my way around a kitchen. Sight, smell, taste, feel, and, yes, even hearing all come into play when cooking by instinct—very important tools, indeed.
 
This dish, my “peasant soup,” is a recipe that I created many, many years ago, but to be very honest I do not remember when exactly I started making this. I will tell you that the potatoes I first pan fry, which I really believe lend to this dish more depth in flavor. My children like it very much, and one of them, in fact, has requested this soup often throughout her years growing up here at home. So tonight, at my youngest daughter’s request (she just got married and probably misses my cooking!), I prepare it, and also will do my very best to write the recipes’ ratios as close to being good and usable for you, my fellow recipe writers on Divine Caroline. For writing down ratios is a discipline I do not adhere well to; I am so used to not measuring but working with a pinch here, a dash there, a small or big handful … three-fingers’ worth … etc.

My “Pan-Fried Potatoes Creamy-Cheesy Peasant Soup” ranks up there with all known comfort foods; and eaten with good French bread, this soup is a very satisfying and heart-warming meal. I hope you will try it, and I hope you will let me know what you think, and as Jacques Pepin would say, “Happy cooking!”

Pan-Fried Potatoes Creamy-Cheesy Peasant Soup, a recipe by Home-Reared Chef!
Overall Rating: 5 (out of 5) Scrumptious-Slurping Delicious Wooden Spoons!

Description: The soup was, simply, “mahvelous!”

Note: My recipe’s ratios are as [close-to] approximate as possible—because, after all, recipes are all about personal taste, as it should be. Also, I will warn you in advance that this dish has a lot of little steps, but most assuredly worth the undertaking. I like what Chef Michael Chiarello says, and does; he likes building flavors on every layer of his dishes, and so do I.

Step 1:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1-1/2 pounds mushrooms
Gray salt to taste
Dry thyme, to taste
Red chili flakes, to taste
1/3 cup of cream sherry

In a large sauté pan, on medium-high heat, heat butter and olive oil, add the mushroom and seasonings (but NOT the sherry), and fry until mushrooms are just about golden. DO NOT stir often. When the mushrooms are golden add the sherry and fry, stirring often, until sherry has just about evaporated. Transfer to a medium-large soup pot (one that the soup will eventually cook in); set aside.

Step 2:
1 pound sliced bacon, cut into bite-size pieces

In the same fry pan fry the bacon until it is crisp; take out with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels.

Of the rendered bacon grease, leave only about 3 tablespoons in the fry pan, and save the rest for another use in your culinary cooking!

Step 3:
3 tablespoons (about) rendered bacon grease
1-1/2 lbs Fingerling Potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (blot well of moisture)
Gray salt, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste
Red chili flakes, to taste
A light sprinkling of ground coriander
A light sprinkling of ground ginger
A light sprinkling of ground nutmeg
1/3 cup of cream sherry

In the fry pan, on medium-high heat, add potatoes and seasonings (DO NOT add sherry yet) and fry until just lightly-golden; then add the sherry and continue sautéing potatoes until sherry is almost all absorbed; add to soup pot with the mushrooms.

Step 4:
1 package (Hillshire Farms preferred) Kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

In same fry pan, on medium-high heat, fry sausage until golden-brown; add to soup pot

Step 5:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
A very light sprinkling of Gray salt
1/4 cup of cream sherry (this will deglaze the pan with all bits of fried goodness!)

In the same fry pan, on medium-high heat, sauté onion with salt (DO NOT add sherry yet) until they are translucent; now add the sherry and sauté until sherry is almost all evaporated; transfer onions to soup pot. (You are now done frying!)

Step 6:
1 pound [yellow or Yukon] gold potatoes, cut into very small cubes (this will add thickness with the release of the starch)
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 ounces (about) Teleme cheese, cut into small pieces
8 ounces (about) Muenster cheese, shredded
Reserved cooked bacon

To the soup pot of fried goodies, add the yellow potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a fast boil; cover the pot and cook on a low-simmering heat for about 45 minutes.

After the 45 minutes, uncover soup and bring heat to a medium; add the cream and cheeses and bacon and stir until the cheeses have melted. Lower heat to low cover pot again and cook for about another 1/2 hour, stirring about every 10 minutes, making sure that nothing is burning. Cook until the large pieces of potatoes are fork tender, or to your desired tenderness.

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