Potato Soup – In Progress

Potato Soup

I have tried numerous recipes in an attempt to get a decent potato soup with results ranging from “barely acceptable” to “inedible”.  In frustration I decided that it had become necessary to create my own recipe from scratch, despite patchy and somewhat questionable experience in the kitchen.  The results below are still a work in progress, but contain the ingredients list and instructions for my best work to date.  This is not a low calorie dish and attempting to alter the recipe to make it so would, quite frankly, ruin the dish.


4 medium Russet potatoes (approx. 6 oz. each)
4 large Red potatoes (approx. 6 oz. each)
– intended results to be half Russet and half Red, regardless of size.
1 small onion, diced small
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced very small
6 – 8 tbsp. butter, divided
½ c. flour
½ gallon whole milk
1 ½ tbsp. “Better Than Bouillon” low sodium chicken base
8 oz. of cheddar, shredded and divided
1/3 lb. of bacon, diced
2 – 3 stalks green onion, chopped to preferred size


Scrub potatoes and, unless there are too many blemishes, leave skin on and dice potatoes into small (approx. ¼ – ½“) pieces.
Place potatoes in microwave safe bowl and microwave approx. 12 min. 
– Note: Do not completely cook.
Toss onion and garlic in pan with 2 – 4 tbsp. butter and sauté until onions have reached clarified stage.
Melt 4 tbsp. butter in soup pot and add flour to make a rue. 
– Note: Make sure to brown the rue or you will get flour paste instead.
Add milk half at a time and whisk to destroy rue lumps.
– Note: This is not intended to be super thick, like wallpaper paste, but thinner, like a thick broth.
While your base thickens and you are combining the soup, cook bacon in fresh pan until crispy.
Drain, reserve bacon grease if desired, and set bacon crisps to one side.
Add chicken base, then onions and potatoes.
Allow soup to come back to simmer, then add ½ of the cheese to the pot.
Once everything is fully integrated soup is ready to serve.
Dish out a bowl and garnish with some each of the bacon crisps, remaining cheddar and green onion.

Yield: Enough to feed a small army.

Additional Notes

I have found that adding the bacon upon serving is the best way to prevent soggy, chewy bacon, and use the chicken base to flavor the soup itself.  The instructions on the chicken base indicate that I’m only using about half as much base as I should be using, and I may change that later, but right now I think the current amount is fine.

The soup is not a finished product, but I can’t quite decide what it’s missing yet.  Jan has suggested the addition of white pepper during cooking, and I think he might be right.  I’m just not sure if white pepper is all that the soup is missing. 

All told though, I’m really proud of this recipe and how far it has come from the nasty stuff I was making before.

Edit: 11/30/2011
Having tried this recipe several times I would like to make some fresh notes.

First: always make sure the potatoes are completely cooked through before tossing them in the finishing soup. if you don’t it will be one of the single biggest reasons why the soup has failed.

make sure you have plenty of garlic. If your ratio of garlic to onion is off it really just won’t taste as good as it could.

Always make sure to drain the leftover butter from the garlic and onions. Tossing it in with the rest will make for a bitter and nasty soup.

It is perfectly safe to toss in 8oz of cheese into the pot and have more made for the topping. The extra cheese does not render the soup too cheesy, but does help with the thickening.

Patience is very much a virtue with this dish. If you cannot set aside three hours for chopping, dicing, cooking, sauteing and all around doing it with patience you will not have a very good soup at all. (In fact, some have been near inedible.)

The most recent batch had double the recipe request for “Better Than Boillon” at 3 tbsp. I like the flavor better, though it may have added too much salt.

In this most recent batch I tossed in 1 1/2 tsp of white pepper. When I added my old green onions to it I ended up with nothing but fire in my mouth. I am learning to appreciate some heat in my meal, but this was all I could taste. As there is a whole pot to be finished I will probably be skipping green onions this time around, but in the future I recommend only 3/4 tsp to 1 tsp of white pepper.

Even after the addition of the white pepper as well as the extra cheese, garlic and stock concentrate I feel that there is a missing note somewhere. I have yet to place my finger on it, but there is some seasoning that it is missing. Who can say?


Veggie Lasagna, Take 1

4 23oz. CorningWare oval dishes
4 c. (16 oz?) shredded mozzarella cheese
12 Lasagna noodles

Mushroom Layer
¾ lb white mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp. butter
3 – 5 cloves garlic, grated
¼ c. marsala wine
¼ c. white sherry

Squash Layer
3 Crookneck squash, sliced
3 Zucchini, sliced
3 – 4 tbsp. butter
3 – 5 cloves garlic, grated

Red Sauce
15 oz. tomato sauce
¼ c. grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried oregano flakes

Ricotta Layer
32 oz. ricotta cheese
6 tbsp. shredded parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes

Thickly slice mushrooms first, and place in pan with grated garlic and butter. Cook until butter is evenly coating mushrooms and mushrooms are beginning to lose their water. Add the wines and cook down until no moisture remains. Allowing the mushrooms to get a little crispy will likely add to the flavor. Expect the flavor to be sweet, but complex, as the marsala is wine that has already been salted and peppered (so cooks of old wouldn’t drink it).

While cooking down the mushrooms slice the squashes and start the pot of water for the noodles. Aim for as much consistency as possible in size. Add to pan with butter and garlic and cook to al dente. Try not to cook these for too long, as you will end up with mush in your lasagna if you do.

Cook lasagna noodles based on instructions on package, then drain.

In separate bowls mix red sauce ingredients and ricotta cheese mix.

The layers of the lasagna should go like this: layer of noodles (one noodle cut in half and laid side by side), layer of squash smothered in red sauce, layer of noodles, layer of mushrooms, layer of ricotta cheese mix, layer of noodles, layer of cheese.

Wrap and freeze.

Theories on cooking to consume: let thaw completely and then cook at 400°F starting with 20 minutes. This is not an entire casserole, so it is not expected to take the hour plus. Dish is ready once cheese is suitably crispy and desirable.

Preliminary notes from preparation:
• There was not enough squash for 6 dishes, only 4
• The oval dishes and their awkward size compared to the noodle made the noodle layers a joke.
• The oval dishes are not nearly deep enough for this kind of dish, and a more suitable dish should be found.
• The amount of mushrooms should be at least doubled for 4 dishes, and tripled or more for 6 dishes.
• There may have been too much garlic in the squash layer.
• Shredded parmesan cheese was added to the ricotta cheese because it is too bland on its own. Here’s hoping it helps without detracting from it.
• The sauce recipe is the same recipe used for pizzas, and will likely need tweaking, first thought is with beef bouillon, which will require a cooking of the sauce.

Notes after cooking and consumption:
Had my first one on 10-08-13. Removed from the freezer in the early am and let defrost on the counter all day. Put in fridge before running errands because I wasn’t going to have a chance to eat it beforehand.

Cooked at 400* for 30 minutes. Browning around the edges and making the house smell great.

Thoughts on it, after consumption:
Around the edges the ricotta mixture is disgustingly grainy. but not inedible. (texture junkie alert). Otherwise the flavor is actually really pretty good.

Some residual juiciness from the veggies, but really not bad at all.

Not nearly enough mushrooms, and some of their flavor gets lost becuase of that.

The squashes might do better just sautéed in butter, as the garlic was overpowering and did not let the squash flavors shine through at all. Also, freezing may have given the garlic a chemical flavor, which was not pleasant.

Was only able to consume half of this in one sitting, leaving the other half for tomorrow. This could be attributed to several factors, but I’m going to stick with “It’s best to just make this two meals”.

Maybe it is the flat flavor of this cheese, but I felt that I needed way more cheese then I actually got.

I may have more thoughts when I eat the leftovers tomorrow, but I needed to make sure I wrote these down for alteration of the recipe later.


Coolest Spider Ever

This gallery contains 4 photos.

I have had a spider living in my lavender bush for quite some time, and every so often I check on things in the hope I will finally see her. This morning I saw an odd round shape in the … Continue reading

Lemon Chicken – In Progress

Lemon Chicken – In Progress

This recipe goes best with fried rice, though plain white rice and vegetables on the side is also acceptable. Broccoli would make a good side vegetable for this dish.


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2/3 c. Bisquick pancake mix, in zip top bag
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp. butter, melted


1 c. granulated white sugar
2 c. water
½ tsp. “Better Then Bouillon” chicken base
1 clove garlic, diced
9 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tsp. lemon zest (peel)
3 tbsp. corn starch
4 tsp. cold water

Preparing the Chicken

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Cut breasts in half length-wise and batter in egg.
Place chicken in ziptop bag, half at a time, and shake bag to coat.
Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil and Pam.
Arrange on baking sheet and drizzle melted butter on top.
Cook 6 min, then flip chicken pieces to cook another 6 min. Change to “broil” and cook additional two minutes, then remove and let rest. Chicken should no longer be pink inside, but juice is acceptable.

Preparing the Sauce

Boil water in sauce pot, then add sugar. Do not add anything else until sugar is dissolved.
Add chicken base, garlic, lemon juice and zest in order, one at a time and within a few minutes of each other
Let cook while preparing corn starch and water slurry (to avoid lumps in sauce)
With sauce on high heat add slurry and mix until sauce thickens or 30 seconds, whichever is longer.
Serve chicken with sauce drizzled on top.

Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding

The recipe original was created by Michelle Berteig and posted on www.food.com . I have added my own embellishments to the ingredients list and cooking instructions, rather then as notes at the bottom.


4 c. milk
3 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp. vanilla
2 c. sugar
3 tbsp. butter
1 c. raisins (optional)
– Or any other dried fruit of choice, or any such ingredient soaked in the alcohol of your choice.
1 loaf of bread
– Bread leftovers, heels, bread type products all acceptable, with sourdough breads working best for this recipe. Stale is fine, but harder to work with.


Tear or dice bread into small pieces in a large bowl, adding optional dried fruit if desired.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix the milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar in a seperate bowl, then add to bread; mix well.
Let the mixture sit for a little while so that the milk is absorbed.
Grease the baking dish with all of the butter. You will have large pieces of butter in the pan, which is fine.
Pour the pudding into the greased pan and cook for one hour or until firm and brown at the edges.
Can be consumed at any temperature, and is excellent with a whipped cream topping or whiskey sauce.


The recipe can easily be altered to accomadate more or less bread, but beware making too much liquid as the result is custard with bread in it, rather then bread pudding.

Because bread pudding was originally intended to make use of old, stale bread I make a point of keeping all of the heels and leftovers that I would have originally discarded in a zip top bag in the freezer until I have enough to make the pudding. This way bread pudding remains a treat for me and prevents waste at the same time.

Tsunami Signs

I had to take pics of all of the tsunami signs on campus, some of which give advice, and others which seem to justify why the students had to go to school on the last day before Spring Break, when not everyone lives were they were unaffected by the Wave.

Trying to Identify This Tree

These pictures are of two different trees on campus, one much younger and smaller than the other.  I’ve seen this kind of tree at the DVC campus before as well, and the flowers are relatively short-lived, with the leaves coming afterwards.  It would be nice to know what kind of tree it is.