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Fri, Dec. 06

Don't be shy about varying traditional recipes

"Variations on a theme" is not limited to music compositions, and can also be put to use in the kitchen.

One example is a basic potato soup, which tastes awfully good on these cold days. Note all the ways you can add variations to the basic potato soup theme.

BASIC POTATO SOUP

3 cups diced potatoes

1 large carrot, diced

1/2 cup each chopped onion and celery

2 tsp. salt

dash each paprika, thyme, madoram (opt.)

1 1/2 cup water (or to cover vegetables)

Bring potatoes, carrots, celery and seasonings to boil in water. Cook about 20 minutes,

covered, or until vegetables are tender. If desired, may use potato masher and gently mash vegetables partially. (This eliminates puree step in blender some recipes call for.) Add 2 cups milk or 1 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 cup half and half.

Also may add 1 tbsp. butter, chopped parsley and dash of pepper.

Variation: Add 1/2 cup chopped ham. If you have some leftover bacon, crumble on top just before serving.

CHEDDAR POTATO SOUP

1/3 cup each chopped onion and celery

2 tbsp. butter or margarine

4 cups sliced potatoes

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups milk

1/4 tsp. pepper

Dash paprika

Seasoned croutons, minced parsley garnish (optional)

In a large saucepan, saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Add potatoes and broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Puree in small batches in blender until smooth, return to pan. Stir in cheese, milk, pepper and paprika. Cook and stir until cheese melts using low heat. Garnish as desired.

CREAMY POTATO SOUP

4 slices bacon, cut up

3 cups peeled, chopped potatoes

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup each chopped carrot and celery

4 cups milk

2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 cup sour cream

2 tbsp. flour

2 tsp. paprika

Cook bacon in saucepan until crisp, reserving 3 tbsp. pan drippings. Drain bacon and set aside. Add potatoes, onion, carrot and celery to bacon drippings. Add small bit of water to cook vegetables, if needed to cook without sticking. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Drain any remaining water. Stir in milk, salt and pepper; boil. Stir together sour cream, flour and paprika; gradually stir about 1 cup of hot mixture into sour cream mixture. Return to hot mixture in saucepan. Cook and stir just till mixture bubbles. Top with crumbled bacon. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8

Variation: To make any of the potato soups into potato-corn chowder add 1/2 to1 cup

leftover corn (or one small can corn). Also, saute a little finely chopped red or green pepper for additional color. These variations suit the soup to your taste and what you have on hand.

CHEESY ONION BREADSTICKS

Great with any bowl of soup, anytime!

1 cup biscuit/baking mix (all purpose)

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

2 green onions, chopped fine

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. butter, melted

In bowl, combine biscuit mix, milk, cheese, onions and garlic powder. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 times. Roll into 8 x 6 inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise into 8 strips. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with butter. Makes 8 breadsticks.

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