Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Buttermilk potato soup with bacon and roasted jalapeno



My grandma calls me her good cook. She’ll say to her friends when I visit, “I don’t have to be in the kitchen because my good cook is here!”

Usually, she lets me cook whatever I want. But the last time I visited she wasn’t feeling well and she requested that I make her one thing—potato soup.

“Are you sure you want potato soup?” I asked. I explained to her that I’d never made it before and I didn’t have a recipe. “There’s a great sweet potato soup recipe on my blog that I can make for you,” I said.

She said no, she wanted potato soup with regular Russet potatoes, not sweet. She told me that her mom used to make potato soup when she was young and she had a craving. I asked if she had my great-grandmother’s recipe and she said she did not. “You’re my good cook,” she said. “I know you can do it.”

Russet potatoes

With no recipe, I looked through her refrigerator for inspiration. Most soups start with a base of aromatics such as celery and onions, so I threw those into a pot and cooked them in bacon grease left over from breakfast. I also added garlic, chicken broth and a mess of peeled and cubed potatoes. After I brought everything to a boil, I let it simmer for a while until the potatoes were soft.

My sister-in-law has an amazing touch with mashed potatoes. Her secret ingredient is buttermilk, which leaves the potatoes bright and creamy instead of leaden and heavy. When you eat these potatoes, you feel like you could eat a whole bowl and still feel light. (Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but they are less rich than cream- and butter-based mashed potatoes.)

Taking a nod from my sister-in-law, after I pureed my soup I finished it with a generous splash of buttermilk. Because my grandma wanted something bland, I left the roasted jalapeños out of her bowl but added them into mine, along with some crumbled bacon. For the finishing touch, I topped the warm soup with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and a dollop of thick sour cream.

The potato soup tasted pretty darn good to me, but of course the real test would be if my grandma liked it. I ladled it into bowls, set the table and told her lunch was ready. She came into the dining room and sat down. “It smells wonderful in here!” she said.

buttermilk potato soup bacon jalapeno

“Is this what you had in mind?” I asked after she took her first bite. She paused, took another and said, “Thank you, this is just what I needed. You’re my good cook.”

Buttermilk potato soup with bacon and roasted jalapeño
Ingredients:
1 or 2 jalapeño chiles (depending on how hot you’d like it)
6 slices of uncooked bacon, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup half and half
Salt and black pepper to taste
Sour cream and shredded Monterey Jack or Muenster for serving

Method:
Cook the jalapeños under the broiler, turning once, until blackened, about 10 minutes. Once cool, leave on the charred skin, remove the stem and seeds and finely dice.

In a large skillet, sauté the bacon on medium heat until crisp and the fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon from skillet and place on paper-towel-lined plate.

Pour 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease into a large pot, reserving the rest for another use. (Leftover bacon grease will keep in the refrigerator for up to six months.) Add the celery and onions to the pot. While stirring occasionally, cook on low heat until soft—about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Add the chicken broth, potatoes, cumin and cayenne. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Turn off the heat and let the soup cool for 10 minutes, then pour into a blender and puree. (You may have to do this in batches. Alternatively, you can use a stick blender in the pot).

Return the soup to the pot and stir in the diced jalapeños, cooked bacon, cilantro, buttermilk and half and half. (This is a thick soup, so if you prefer it thinner, add water, more broth, more buttermilk or half and half.) Turn the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings and add salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve topped with sour cream and shredded cheese.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Note: If you want to keep it lighter and have it be extra tangy, use all buttermilk instead of both buttermilk and half and half.

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67 comments:

Jennifer Jo said...

This is such a sweet story.

I like the buttermilk idea, too.

Melissa said...

That actually made me choke up a bit. Great post, Lisa, in every way.

Ashleigh said...

Such a heartwarming story - I love Grandparents!

Anonymous said...

Do you need cultured/store-bought buttermilk or milk+vinegar do? - Tracy

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Jennifer Jo--Buttermilk has become one of my new favorite ingredients.

Melissa--Thank you!

Ashleigh--Grandparents are the best!

Tracy--That's a very good question. I think it's probably best with cultured buttermilk, though it might work with milk plus vinegar. I haven't tried that yet!

atoastandtea said...

This sounds so good, I may have to change my cooking plans this week and get this onto the menu soon!

Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie said...

I bet that roasted jalapeno was a great addition!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

atoastandtea--Hope you enjoy it!

Erin--Roasted jalapeños make almost anything better!

Brittany said...

Aww, I love this story. There is nothing more rewarding than brightening a loved one's day with your food.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Brittany--That's the truth!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I love a soup with a story behind it. Can't wait to try this one.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Lydia--Stories always make food taste better.

Anonymous said...

Well hell yes! Jeff in Katy

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Jeff--Ha! Glad you approve!

Amanda said...

Super cute! I am going to try this :)

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy said...

This sounds excellent! I love a good comfort soup! I'm so glad that she liked it!

Carol Sacks said...

What a sweet post. Received your book late-last week and my family has been swooning over your Coffee-Chipotle BBQ sauce (served it with tri-tip) ever since. Making your brisket this weekend and hopefully you're Ruby Red Sweet Rolls, too.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Amanda--Enjoy!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Debbi--Me, too! Though she's pretty easy going.

Carol--I love that you served it with tri-tip. We're starting to see that cut more often in NYC, so I'll have to pair the two together.

Lyns said...

This brought tears to my eyes. What a beautifully written story. One of the last things I made for my grandmother was some turkey noodle soup when she too was sick and needed something soothing to eat...your post brought her back to me.

Moony said...

Dear Lisa... what a big surprise... to keep it better, just make it simple! Im glad that at your home you are the good cook!!! I am too, just a little lazy her. And also, I want to share with you that this last Christmas I got as my Secret Santa present, your book!!!! I was so happy and surprised, because my cousin sent it to me from Dallas, TX!!!! And well, Im in Mexico City. What a wonderful surprise!!!

Thanks you... and making plans for using your book at least once per week!!!!!

Deanna said...

Aww... that was a very sweet story. I love the addition of the roasted jalapenos and bacon. I bet some chorizo would have been delicious on top too (we almost always have some leftover from chorizo and eggs).

Karly said...

I love this story almost as much as I love grandmas.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Lyns--That was probably the best turkey noodle soup she'd ever had.

Moony--Happy cooking in Mexico CIty!

Deanna--Speaking from experience, I can tell you that chorizo is indeed good with it, too!

Karly--Grandparents are the best, aren't they?

Sandy from Oklahoma said...

Lisa, I love your blog! This story you shared with your fans about your Grandma's request for potatoe soup is so beautiful. I must also say, your recipe while reading it....OMG....it made me extremely hungry and it's only 5:20AM here! This recipe is a keeper :-)

Anonymous said...

Why not make some extra potato and return them to the soup after the puree? Creamy and chunky in the same bowl!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Sandy--Glad I made you hungry!

Anon--Great idea! Alternatively, you could only puree half the cooked potatoes.

Candace said...

What a sweet story! Thanks so much for sharing it. If I hadn't already planned tacos for dinner tonight, we would have this soup. It would be perfect on a snowy night and my potato loving husband would be thrilled. Maybe I will adjust my plans after all.

Celeste said...

Cooking for our people is a love thing, that's for sure.

Novelismo said...

Here's a suggestion on mashed potatoes -- generally, they don't reheat without some loss of flavor and texture. However, if you mash in a package of cream cheese, they can be made the day ahead because they will keep overnight and can very easily be reheated. Add the cream cheese in addition to the buttermilk.

Kristen said...

That is such a charming story. I love potato soup with bacon and cheddar, a tex-mex twist sounds interesting. I might have to give this version a try next time. Thank you again for your blog.

Unknown said...

That story made me cry! Both of my grandmothers have been gone for over 10 years and my mom for 20. You are so lucky to have them...

Mrs. L said...

Now I know what to do with the leftover buttermilk I have in the fridge, thanks for the recipe!

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Oh wow. It's rare I see such an original soup but this looks fantastic.

Kay said...

Love potato soup and will be making this ASAP!

Received your cookbook (as requested) for Christmas and it is so very lovely. So far, I've tracked down the dried chilies to have on hand, made the black-eyed peas, and just this morning, the Ruby Red cinnamon rolls. I make a lot of bread and these are incredibly light and delicious!

idiosyncraticeye said...

Aw bless, I love how appreciative your grandma is of your talents and her faith in you. You're obviously a kitchen genius, my inventions tend towards the pear-shaped! :)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Candace--It is indeed perfect for snowy evenings!

Celeste--So true.

Novelismo--Great tip!

Kristen--Bacon and potatoes are a perfect match!

Unknown--Grandparents are a treasure.

Mrs. L--It's a terrific way to use up extra buttermilk!

Scott--Thanks!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kay--So pleased you enjoyed the Ruby Red cinnamon rolls, they're definitely favorites of mine.

idiosyncraticeye--I think the key to inventing is to just keep tasting as you cook.

Sara from Texas said...

Can yellow golds, or another potato variety, be used in place of russets? Or will there be a sacrifice in texture?

V said...

looks delicious! and what a sweet story! me? I could eat potatoes everyday of my life



http://inizibeginningscomienzos.blogspot.com/

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Sara--You can substitute other potatoes. You might just adjust the cooking time as some cook faster than others.

Derek said...

This makes me think of my grandmother who is back home in Texas. She always calls me her "sweet boy". I miss her. I think I'll be calling her very soon. Thanks for the recipe and the story.

Laura said...

i saw this recipe and immediately changed my dinner plans- absolutely delicious

Anonymous said...

I had been craving a comforting potato soup, and then...voila...you posted this! I made it last night and it was delicious. Just the right amount of buttermilk for the perfect amount of tanginess. Lovely story! Thanks! Amy

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Derek--Your call will make her day!

Laura--I'm so glad that you liked it!

Amy--You're very welcome. I'm happy that y'all enjoyed the soup!

Amy (Minimally Invasive) said...

Such a sweet story! I never had the chance to cook for my grandmother, but I'm sure this is just the sort of thing she would have loved.

Lindie said...

Thanks for the recipe. I love spicy foods and love soup!

Lulu said...

Thanks Lisa. I was thinking about what to make my 84 year old Mom this weekend. She spent a couple of days in the hospital this week, got a new pace maker and felt like wonder women until she fell this morning. But, she is doing great since the ambulance guys came to pick her up. Nothing like some young cuties paying you some attention. :)
I know this will hit the spot for her too.

I love your book. Ive been picking it up every weekend this winter to look at the pictures and read a story or two.

Happy New Year and hope your Grandma is doing well.

Betsey said...

Homesick Texan-mania has taken our house by storm. My blog has basically become a fan blog for The Homesick Texan Cookbook, and even my husband is cooking from it. His methods are pretty unorthodox (he added kalamata olives to Mexican Fried Potatoes), but it's amazing that he is even consulting a recipe!

So far the #1 show-stopper for us has been the Green Chile Posole with Black Beans. This is like a make-once-a-month-for-the-rest-of-your-life recipe, in my opinion. It's great when healthy and delicious meet up like that.

Jill Mant~a SaucyCook said...

I'm not sure which one of you I am more envious of: you for having a grandma still around to love and adore you in the way only a grandma can or your grandma for having a bowl of that soup that sounds so incredibly delicious? While I'm pondering this, I think I will mosie into the kitchen and start a pot! Thank you, both for the recipe and for the lovely story.

keith said...

Hey Lisa,

im an expat from Houston living in Germany. I always make a recipe of yours for a party or a get together. Through that have become the most popular guy in town! :) hahaha. A friend of mine overheard me raving about your blog, and got me your book for Christmas. You did a real nice job! Love the pictures of the landscape and of course, the yummy recipes - new, old, and varied.

Here's to bacon grease!
keitih

Weekend Cowgirl said...

I love the buttermilk part!! Gonna try this week! Thanks.

April said...

Looks great! I'll try it soon.

Kisa K said...

My husband loves potato soup, but I've never made it. :) I can't wait to try this.

The Galley Gourmet said...

I have all the ingredients, so this is on the menu tonight!

Becky said...

How sweet! Stories involving grandmas and food are the best :)

Nics Cahill said...

I too love to cook in bacon grease left over from breakfast - the buttermilk's a great idea. I can't wait to try this. Thank you. Great story as well, good food is always about good stories.

Stephanie said...

Such a cute story! I love potato soup and the photos of with the bacon on top is reminding me that I haven't eaten lunch yet!

From Sugar Cookies to Peterbilts said...

Love the story and the recipe!

Vanessa said...

Potato soup has always cured all in our family so this brought tears to my eyes as well. Thanks for sharing.

anotherfoodieblogger said...

Ahhh,thank you, just the type of soup I need right now.

Kevin said...

I could really go for a bowl of this soup right now!

Anonymous said...

I roasted the onion and garlic. Then, roasted some bell peppers and added them. I left some potatoes unpureed. Then, I added some extra sharp cheddar cheese. I thought the parishioners were going to lick the pot at the Lenten Soup Supper. My husband and I are happy to add our version of the soup you made with so much love. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Loved this recipe! However, I made it without the cumin or jalapeno and had to add a little more chicken base to the stock.

Unknown said...

Loved it. I didn't puree the potatoes, though, and it was still a delicious, chunky soup!

Sarah R said...

I was just looking up recipes to use up jalapenos. Your story made me cry missing my grandmother so much.

Anonymous said...

I was looking for recipes to use up buttermilk and potatoes and found your blog. Made the soup and it is excellent. I did not puree the soup and it was a delicious chunky soup. This is the first time I have viewed this blog and I was excited about what I saw. I will be trying out more of the recipes soon.

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