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Good Ol' Tater Soup


By Ron Williams
March, 2005

Shhh! Don't tell nobody, but this recipe has some, well, rather French roots. Naw, not celeriac or such, I mean the origin of the recipe. I realize that the French aren't too popular in these parts since their government declined our invitation to Shock and Awe in Iraq; however, I'll let someone else go down to Louisiana Cajun country to talk about French folks being "pussies and can't fight."  I've seen some men named Michele that I ain't gonna mess with!

This is basically the recipe for vichyssoise (pronounced "cold tater soup"). However, this is served hot and isn't pureed through a blender and is a bit thicker and contains some country ham, carrots, and celery. You can mess with this recipe in many ways and it will almost always turn out good. It's quick, homemade comfort food that everybody will eat.

First, gather three dozen snails and slugs.

Here's what you need:
4 or 5 leeks (Them's those things that look like giant green onions..)
1 small/medium yellow onion - chopped
quarter cup each of chopped carrots, celery, and country ham
4 T (half a stick) of butter
5 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 qt. of chicken broth
2 cups of whole milk
2 cups of heavy cream (or you can use a qt of Half & Half instead of the milk/cream)
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste

Now leeks are grown in sand. Sand is not something that I enjoy in my soup, so you got to make sure you wash any sand out of the leeks. Trim the root and the green part off the leeks. You only use the white (and maybe a little of the lighter green) part of the leeks. Slice the leeks longways down the middle and wash them under the faucet while separating the layers of the leeks to cleanse of any embedded sand. Thinly slice the leeks crosswise.

In a big pot, melt the butter and sauté the leeks, chopped onion, carrots, and celery until the onion begins to get some brown. Add the chicken broth and the diced potatoes and chopped country ham and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender - about 20 minutes. Add a combination of the milk and heavy cream until the soup is the thickness you like ˆ don‚t boil it, but get everything hot. Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne to taste.

In the summer, cold tater soup (pronounced vizzyswizzy) is actually pretty good. Use the above recipe but leave out the carrots, celery, and ham. After cooking the potatoes in the broth, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Add the milk and cream and stick it in the icebox to get cold. You want it thin enough so you can sort of drink it -not quite as thick as a milkshake. Of course, you're supposed to pour it into a bowl, garnish with some chopped parsley - but, vichyssoise is pretty good just as a cold drink. Plus, it's fun to ask the boys at Bobby's Garage and Pawn, "Hey! Junior, T-Bone- y'all want another Big Gulp cup full of vichyssoise on the rocks?

Shhh! Don‚t tell nobody, but you can add some vodka to that vizzyswizzy, too. Who says we ain't got class!

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