Monday, January 16, 2012

Potato Soup from the 1950s

I was fortunate to inherit my grandmother's copy of Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book.  I think it is a second edition but I can't tell because some of the front pages are missing.  I know it is not the first edition because I purchased a replica reprint on its 50th anniversary, in 2000.

The two editions look about the same (the picture is of my grandmother's book) but the first edition has an alphabetical index by chapter and my grandmother's book has a standard index.  I find the standard index much more convenient; I can look up all recipes for say, potatoes, at once instead of having to check each chapter.

Speaking of which, I had a bag of potatoes in my pantry that needed to be used.  This, my friends, is how women used to cook all the time -- What do I have and how can I use it?  What is in season?  There was not a lot of running to the store to get the latest trendy ingredient or deciding what to cook based on how you felt on the spur of the moment.  So in this spirit, I decided to try Betty C's simple recipe for potato soup (it being a wet and blustery day).


Potato Soup (page 371)

"The homey, old-fashioned kind."

Saute' gently in 2 tbsp. butter...

   1 tbsp. grated carrot
   1 tbsp. scraped onion

Stir in ...
   1 tsp. salt
   1/4 tsp. celery salt
   1/8 tsp. pepper
   2 cups hot milk
  1 cup mashed or boiled potatoes put through a coarse sieve

Cook 20 min., stirring occasionally.

Amount:  6 servings.


I used the fine holes on the grater for the carrots and, instead of scraping the onion (which I find messy), I finely chopped them.  It seemed like a lot of butter for my tastes but, when I considered that I'd be using non-fat milk, I was fine with it.

I boiled the potatoes unpeeled for about 20 minutes, until they were tender all the way through.  I pierced them with a cooking fork to check.  They were drained and cooled for a while and then I peeled them.

The recipe called for 1 cup of mashed potatoes.  I cooked four potatoes knowing that it was too much.  No problem!  I can always use the remainder for some other dish, like a gratin. I ended up using two. (They were all pretty small potatoes.)

I admit to not using a sieve but I stirred it for awhile to break up the potato bits.  When I cooked it for 20 minutes, I kept the fire as low as possible and stirred it more often once the soup started steaming.  This got the soup nice and hot and also blended the flavors.

The Verdict:  Yum!  It smelled good, making me want to taste it.  It was interesting to look at, with the carrot and onion bits, the pepper, the small lumps of potato, and the butter floating on top.  It was tasty and a little bit creamy -- would be more so if I had used whole milk as they would have in the '50s, I think.  I'm not a fan of celery salt but I used it anyway and was pleasantly surprised at the flavor.  I think it is just right.

By the way, "6 servings" would work if this was a soup course before a bigger meal.  I don't think I would get more than 2 servings if soup was the main focus of the meal.  If you like chunky potato soup, you could use some of the extra cooked potato, cut into small dice, to make it that way.  I think it would also be good with some cheddar cheese melted into it. I had it "as is" for lunch with some saltine crackers and a sliced apple.

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