Simple Soups, Simple Seasonings

The 2000’s, the naughts, the aughts, or whatever not-quite-pleasing word you choose to refer to the decade just past was definitely the Decade of the Foodie. We’re human animals and need food to survive and we’ve always been obsessive about it one way or another.

Ever since religion was invented, someone has been telling humans what not to eat and how it should be prepared. And that there are times when no food should be consumed. Why is it spiritual to not eat? That could only happen when food and other consumer items became sufficiently available to give them up.

And then there is the idea of feasts to celebrate whatever we can come up with… often the same things we fast in order to contemplate.

Food can just get too complex if you think about it too much. So, I’m offering here two recipes you don’t have to think about to enjoy.

First up is Simple Potato Soup. I could probably get real philosophical about why I chose to make that on Christmas Eve. But, I’ll spare you.

Simple Potato Soup

3 slices thick-sliced bacon, chopped into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
4 – 6 medium russet potatos, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
6 -8 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the bacon, pour off 1/2 the grease. Saute the onion in the remaining grease. Place the potatos, onions, and bacon pieces in a saucepan and cover with water 2 – 3 inches above the ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook until potatos are tender. Stir occasionally to break off bits of the potatos to thicken the juice. Check seasoning, serve with cornbread.

Of course you can expand this recipe. Make it decadent by adding a bit of cream, or make it healthier by reducing the amount of bacon. What I think should not be attempted is to dress it up by adding additional seasonings. If you want a different flavor, use a different meat, something like Polish or Italian sausage. The meat in this dish is meant to be seasoning, not a primary ingredient.

For our New Year’s Eve meal, dear hubby wanted chicken and rice soup. While the preparation isn’t as simple as that for potato soup, the ingredients are.

Simple Chicken and Rice Soup

1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
2 cups uncooked rice
1 chicken, stewed, skinned, and deboned
Broth from the chicken, with water added to make 8 cups

Cook the chicken until the meat is falling off the bones and then a bit. Remove the chicken and strain the broth. We used a pressure cooker, an ancient electric one that I fear may stop working some day. A large pot is fine, but takes much longer.

Chill the broth so that the fat can be skimmed off. Leave a little bit… don’t be paranoid about a little bit of chicken fat.

Separate the chicken meat from the bones and skin. Again, leave a few bits of skin, but not large chunks. Refrigerate until the broth has chilled enough to remove the fat.

Boil the onions and celery in the chicken broth. When they are almost done, add enough water to make at least 8 cups of broth. Add the rice and chicken, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. The rice should be done in approximately 20 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, adding water if the soup is too thick. Some types of rice absorb more water than others.

Salt and pepper only, please. Keep the seasonings simple too.

6 thoughts on “Simple Soups, Simple Seasonings

  1. Yum! I am a big fan of bacon (and saved bacon fat)…I make a similar potato soup with the leeks from the garden, but add powdered skim milk at the last minute to make it creamier. Of course when my family actually had REAL Vichyssoise made with butter and cream, they thought they’d died and gone to heaven, but I actually prefer the bacon version…

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