Polar Vortex & Potato & Cheddar Soup

Hey! Canada! Come get your polar vortex.
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Don’t you hate it when that happens? A friend comes over to visit and then leaves something behind. Maybe he forgets his coat or gloves or she leaves a book after book club or a dish after a potluck. You call to let them know and they promise to stop by to retrieve it. Of course, you believe them and you leave whatever it is by the backdoor.

A few days turn into weeks, even months. After tripping over it one too many times, the coat is relegated to the back of the closet. The gloves are stowed in the mitten basket. Abandoned books are shelved and dishes go into the cupboard. More often than not, these friends stop by from time to time. No matter how often they visit, they always manage to forget their stuff.

Before you know it, you are not only wearing those gloves; they’ve become your favorites. Thanksgiving rolls around and the homeless need winter clothes. The front hall closet is filled to overflowing, so, without really thinking about it, his coat goes into the pile for the shelter. Come spring, her book joins a stack for COA’s fundraising sale. A rainy day cleaning binge uncovers a beautiful platter but you can’t figure out why it doesn’t fit with the rest of your dishes. Your niece moves into her first apartment and you give it to her.

If only it were so easy to get rid of this arctic blast that just won’t quit. Or teases us by retreating for a few days and then come back with a vengeance.

So listen up Canada, you’re welcome to visit anytime. You’re an ally and a friend. We share a border and a language with most of you. And those who don’t, whether you are speaking English or French, you have lovely accents. So please come down and see us, enjoy our ski slopes, snowshoe in our woods and skate on our ponds. Visit our museums, give our musicians a listen, shop ‘til you drop and enjoy our restaurants. It’s all good as long as you leave your #@%&* polar vortex at home.

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s March already and this is New Hampshire. It’s not the Yukon or Val-d’Or. All right already, we get it. We know it’s too early for sandals and cherry blossoms. We understand that spring is relative and Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions don’t apply here. No one expects to see daffodils until the end of April or early May. However, we shouldn’t be waking up to minus eight.

Now, if by some unfortunate chance, the arctic cold slips into your backpack and hitches a ride south, we’ll understand. We won’t like it but we’ll understand if, and ONLY IF, you take it with you when you leave. We get it that you too are ready to see the last of the blasted polar vortex. However, you sent it down here; taking it back is the right thing to do. Consider it good global manners or being a decent neighbor. We would be most grateful.

Stay warm and bon appétit!

Potato & Cheddar Soup
As long as the cold air refuses to head back up north, this soup will be perfect for a hearty lunch or light supper. Hopefully, it won’t be on your 4th of July menu! Enjoy!
potato_cheddar_soup_03Makes about 2 1/2 quarts

3-4 slices thick cut bacon, diced
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon smoke paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 pounds red skinned potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
3-4 sprigs thyme, tied in a bundle
1 bay leaf
1 cup sour cream (optional)
4 ounces (plus more for garnish sharp) Cheddar cheese, shredded
Chopped chives and/or fresh parsley for garnish

Put the bacon in a large stockpot and cook over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan, drain and reserve. Leaving just enough to coat the pot, drain most of the fat.

Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pot, season with the paprika, salt and pepper and sauté over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half.

Add the potatoes and chicken stock to the pot. Tie the thyme and bay leaf with butcher’s string and add the bundle to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Let the soup cool for about 30 minutes. Remove the herb bundle.

Using a potato masher, smash the potatoes until the soup is thick and chunky. For a thicker soup, process about 2 cups of soup in a food processor until smooth and stir back into the pot. For a very smooth soup, puree the soup in a blender.

Put the sour cream in a bowl and, a little at a time, whisk in 2 cups of soup. A little bit at a time, whisk the sour cream mixture into the soup. Reheat the soup to steaming on medium heat. Whisk the cheddar cheese into the soup. Stirring frequently, reheat the soup to steaming.

Meanwhile, put the bacon pieces on a sheet pan and warm in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the cheddar cheese, bacon and chives. Serve immediately.

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Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What are your thoughts on the record cold and, in some parts of the country, record snowfall? Feel free to share. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

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4 thoughts on “Polar Vortex & Potato & Cheddar Soup

  1. Susan, I’m so glad you posted this! I think it brought the first warm day to central MA – thank you!
    The soup looks luscious. I have been making soup on pretty much a weekly basis, since November…a personal record.

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    • Quinn, Thanks for stopping by. Yesterday was gorgeous so I’m happy to take credit even if it isn’t due. Today’s rain is starting to turn to snow and I’m looking forward to some great skiing (if not the shoveling/snow blowing). Enjoy the soup – it’s yummy! Take care – Susan

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  2. Susan, I look forward to trying this soup, it looks delicious! But I work at the Woodstock Inn & Resort and our ski mountain Suicide Six, can surely use another two weeks of skiers so I have to disagree on wanting spring to come too soon. We do enjoy the warm days and cold nights though so the sap will run. We are hoping to start the annual Walker Spring Sap boiling at home in NH next weekend!

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    • Diane – thanks for stopping by … I didn’t realize you had moved to VT. the soup is yummy. I too am looking forward to at least two more weeks of skiing – I just don’t like waking up to below zero weather. I’m looking forward to snow tomorrow and Thursday. Bring on the spring skiing! Take care – Susan

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