One of the greatest challenges of our participation in My Peak Challenge is being prepared. Not necessarily with snacks and water bottles and clothes. More with meals. Especially on weeknights, when I am rushing to meet deadlines, get homework done, dash out to our challenge, then get a healthy meal on the table and get everyone to bed at a reasonable time.
I do make meals in advance, but that is a post for another day. 5 times out of 10 I turn to soup.
Speaking of Soup….
Chef Zachary Pope is the executive chef at Blackwall Hitch in Eastport. He’s an average-sized guy with an enormous heart. For the past ten years, Chef Pope and Lea Hurt have organized a special event through their church to raise money for The Lighthouse Shelter. They are both so clever: its called The Soup-er Bowl and it is held every year at Heritage Baptist Church off Forest Drive on Super Bowl Sunday.
Pope and Hurt are just two volunteers in what is a congregation-and- community-wide effort. Pope prepares three soups, members of the Lighthouse Shelter Culinary Education Program serve it, and volunteers from the Heritage Baptist Church, the Naval Academy and other community activists help with everything else.
The public is invited and admission is free, but donations are requested. Lunch includes soup, salad, fresh rolls and dessert. This year Soup-er Bowl will be held Sunday, February 7, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Since it began in 2007, the annual SOUPer Bowl has raised thousands of dollars for the shelter.
Chef Pope offered me his recipe for Potato Soup, one he says is a big hit at The Soup-er Bowl and at home, and one I will be making this weekend as we prepare for next week’s challenge, when we will need warm energizing foods that stick to our ribs. Hint: it involves squats, sprints and deadlifts (YIKES).
Chef Pope’s Famous Potato Soup: It’s Soup-er
“Potatoes provide some of the easiest, most economical opportunities to re-task menu items. If you are baking potatoes as a side item for a big dinner, bake 3 extra to use the next day in an amazing potato soup”, says Pope. “Most ‘baked potatoes’ are the Russet variety. These brown skinned potatoes are creamy and tasty, but not too starchy or heavy. This recipe is a crowd-pleaser and extremely easy on the budget. Amounts shown will serve three people as a main course soup or four as a side”.
A large stock pot
Immersion blender or regular blender
3 previously baked potatoes diced into large chunks leaving some peel
1 small onion, diced OR 2 medium leeks (dice only the white portion after thoroughly rinsing)
2 C 2 percent or whole milk
1 celery stalk, diced
2 T butter
4 oz. water
Garnishes: real bacon bits, sour cream, shredded cheese and/or chopped chives
Melt butter in stock pot over medium heat. Add garlic, diced celery and onion (or leeks). Sweat (or sauté) the vegetables for about 1 minute until they are translucent.
Add 4 oz. water and diced baked potatoes. Increase heat. Boil (to 212 degrees) until most of the water is gone and potatoes have completely softened and broken down. The potatoes should be almost completely dissolved in the remaining water so that as you add the milk (next), the starch in the dissolved potatoes will strengthen the milk, causing the milk NOT to separate.
Add 2 cups of milk and reduce heat to medium. Allow to simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste and add salt, cracked black pepper or a season all spice blend as needed.
Now, blend the soup to give it a smooth body and help with thickening. If you have an immersion blender, put it in the stock pot and, using slow, small circles, blend until it is mostly smooth, about 3 minutes. I think that leaving a few potato chunks will enhance the overall texture experience.
If you are using a regular blender, exercise extreme caution. Only fill your blender half full to prevent a splash of your HOT soup burning you during this step. Blend on pulse 30 seconds to 1 minute.
After blending, taste again and add seasonings if needed. You can adjust the thickness of your soup with more milk, water or a few pats of butter to add richness.
Garnish with grated cheese, chives, real bacon bits and/or sour cream. Anything you would add to a baked potato would taste great with this soup. Enjoy!
Heritage Baptist is an affiliate congregational partner of the shelter, offering support and resources throughout the year. For more information, contact the church office at 410-263-6680, or see the church web site at www.heritagebaptistannapolis.org