Thursday, May 6, 2010

Not So Iron Stomach

I met Mario Batali! Well, sort of. He was holding a book signing right in front of my office…which just happens to be in the same building as his family’s amazing Chartrucerie shop, Salumi. So, by ‘met him’ I mean, I stalkerishly took pictures of him from around the corner, then finally got in line and bought a book, which he signed. I also bought a book for Amanda, and for my coworker’s daughter, Laura. I was a little flustered, and told Mario to make it out to “Laura…L-U-A-R-A.” He corrected me. Mario is clearly not only an Iron Chef, but also an Iron Speller.

I wanted to come up with something awesome to say to him, I also wanted to hop on here and immediately tell you all about it, maybe even come home and do some ‘Easy Italian Cooking’ out of his book I bought, Molto Gusto, so I could blog about it. But alas, something else was goin’ down that day, which is evident in my sickly palor in the picture of us together. My stomach wasn’t feeling too hot from the get-go that morning, and shortly after kickin’ it with Mario, I went home from work early... with stomach flu. Tuesday afternoon was definitely a blur, of which I’ll spare you the gory details. Wednesday I napped most of the day, ate a few bites of chicken noodle soup and a handful of crackers, followed by a few bites of Evan’s chicken katsu. By this evening...Thursday, I was ready to get some food in my belly, but there was only one food I could think of that didn’t make my stomach flip. Mel’s potato soup.

Growing up, this was THE soup we had in our family. We had it when we were sick. We had it when we weren’t. We had it all the time… and we never got tired of it. It was one of the first things Amanda and I made in our own kitchens after moving out, and we both still make it on the regular.

Unlike typical potato soups, Mel’s isn’t thick and creamy, it’s not full of herbs and spices, and doesn’t contain leeks (sorry Julia). It’s simple in preparation and flavor, delicious and comforting with a buttery, oniony, chicken broth base and bites of tender potatoes and carrots. It’s the one thing that will always comfort my weak stomach and my hungry soul.

Watch out stomach flu…you’ve just met your match.

Mel’s Potato Soup

5-6 russet potatoes- peeled, quartered, and cut in ‘thickish’ slices
1 small-medium yellow onion, diced
1-2 carrots- peeled and chopped or sliced
1 stick (8T) butter
4-6 cans (8-12 cups) chicken broth
1 can (about 2 cups) evaporated milk
Grated cheddar cheese for garnish
Warm French bread for dipping

Melt half stick (4T) butter in large pot over medium low heat and add potatoes, onions, and carrots. Cook (making sure it doesn't stick) until onions are translucent and potatoes are slightly tender. Add generous salt and pepper. Add in one can (or 2 cups) of broth, and bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Add remaining broth, bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Just before serving, add in remaining butter and evaporated milk, and stir until melted and incorporated. Serve with grated cheddar cheese, fresh cracked pepper, and warm French bread. Or, if you happen to find yourself whipping this up when you have stomach flu, serve with Saltine crackers.
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