For my last post, I presented a recipe for “French Peasant Bread” and mentioned how wonderful this bread was to accompany soup. I teased you with an upcoming potato soup and decided to continue my peasant theme.
Growing up we had some go-to quick suppers that my sister and I loved. One was hamburger gravy over bread. Hamburger gravy was simply about a half pound of hamburger (from our own cattle) browned with enough milk added to make a gravy. Could we get anymore peasant-like than that?
Another simple supper was potato soup. Mom’s soup was simply cooked potatoes, bacon, bacon fat, onions and milk. I remember it fondly.
Okie Peasant Potato Soup
based on Mom’s
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp (reserve bacon fat)
6 (about 1 1/2 lbs.) red potatoes, cubed (leave skin on)
1 c. sliced carrots
1 T. dried shallots
3 c. chicken broth
2 T. bacon fat
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T. flour
3 c. 2 % milk
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. fresh ground pepper
Grated mild cheddar
Cook bacon crisp and reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Crumble bacon and set aside.
Place potatoes, carrots, dried shallots and chicken broth in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cook until carrots and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
In a smaller sauce pan, make a white sauce. Heat bacon fat and lightly sauté garlic. (Do not over cook.) Add the flour and whisk until mixture bubbles so you know the flour will not taste raw. Carefully whisk in milk to make a sauce. Cook to a simmer and then remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Whisk sauce into the potato mixture. Stir until smooth, leaving chunks of potato and carrots. Add bacon. Adjust seasonings.
Serve. Garnish with cheese.
Makes about 6 servings.
Mom used perhaps more bacon fat and sautéd lots of onions. Since we were iced in these last couple of days, I only had dried shallots. Mom’s recipe was also sans carrots but I added them anyway. Now, could you make this soup without the bacon fat? Sure, you could substitute butter or olive oil but let me tell you—it wouldn’t be as good!
Growing up, we really didn’t think of ourselves as poor. We were just like most kids in our community and probably better off than some. (Our school was 100% free/reduced lunches so if you know anything about the federal child nutrition program, you know that most of the families were at the poverty level.) It wasn’t until a year or two out of college that Dad sat me down to say how much he appreciated me working my way through school because he prayed that I wouldn’t have to ask for money when I was visiting on the weekends. There was usually none to be had.
I guess this is an homage to my parents (and the parents of most of my friends) who kept our poverty from us and made us feel like normal kids with nothing to be ashamed of.
We thought we were eating just fine as we feasted on hamburger gravy and potato soup.