guest blog: meatless mondays | jennifer menke

Meatless Monday Movement Grows!

Hello again nonchalantmom readers!

Feel free to click over to my blog post if you want to read the 'whole story' of this follow-up to Meatless Monday Eight and the Lowly Potato Soup recipe , but you don't have to. I will summarize in one sentence:

I made fun of my Aunt Rita, scorned the simplicity of her famous Potato Soup (which is quite bizarre in the making and seriously delicious), and drew many comments from my extended family who --until last week -- had never read any of my blog posts. What changed?

My Mom got on her phone with a Red Alert to her sisters saying "I just want to warn you that Jennie wrote about Rita's Potato Soup. Don't be offended. She writes terrible things about me all the time."

First: I do NOT write terrible things about my mother. I write TRUE things about my mother. She is the only one who thinks they are terrible. Frankly, I think it's the pictures she takes issue with. She is a beautiful woman who manically hates every single picture ever taken. Can I help it if I have to post one of them every once in a while?

Second: I did poke fun at my Aunt Rita. She really did burn everything when I was a kid. However, in the post, I neglected to mention that she is a fine cook now. If my mom had simply let it go, and not called the Red Alert, Aunt Rita, her brethren and her offspring, would have been none-the-wiser. No apologies necessary.

Third: A Red Alert to the sisters is serious business. The fact that I received comments on my site from my slacker cousins and a computer shy Uncle is astonishing and proof to the effectiveness of the Red Alert.

But here is the most amazing thing: I now know of four other families participating in Meatless Mondays because of me! I mean, I hate to pat myself on the back or anything (Actually, I do like to pat myself on the back, so just forget that last sentence), but I am so thrilled!

I knew my parents were doing Meatless Mondays -- and that's in addition to Catholic Meatless Fridays for lent. But I didn't know my Aunt and Uncle were doing it, too! I have a follower on Twitter who is mostly following my recipes a week later (except for the failures, and there have been a couple already), and a good friend of mine in Watertown is also taking part!

So the little saying that "one person can make a difference" really does seem to be true in this case. (It also helps if you have diabolical control over at least three other family members, as I do, but still.)

Anyway, following are the steps to making this soup. It is ridiculously simple and seems almost silly to even explain. And yet, many experienced cooks commented on how they -- like me -- would never have thought of this way to make potato soup. Most are cream based and laden with fat. This one is not. And it could not be simpler, cheaper, or more delicious.

I should mention another astonishing revelation that came from this post was a comment from my Aunt Rita herself, telling me "You forgot the beef bouillon." It so happened that my Mother was standing in my office when I read the comment for the first time. I read it aloud to her. She said, and I quote, "I KNEW SHE WAS HOLDING SOMETHING BACK. MINE NEVER TASTED THE SAME AS HERS." (She said it loudly, hence the caps.) You see, I got my recipe from my Mom, who got it from my Aunt Rita, who neglected to mention the beef bouillon cube.

The moral of the story: Sisters are always competitive.Also: I like it just fine without the beef bouillon cube.
So here it is:

Aunt Rita’s Potato Soup (for lack of a better name)

Russet potatoes, any size
cold water to cover
3T flour
3T buttersalt & pepper to taste
cheese for garnish
bacon bits if you are not partaking in Meatless Monday!
Put unpeeled, whole cleaned potatoes in a large dutch oven or saucepan with a lid. (for 4 people with left overs, I used 4 baker-sized potatoes) Cover potatoes with cold water by about 1/2″ – 1″. Bring to a simmer and partially cover. Cook until potatoes are tender. DO NOT THROW OUT THE BOILING WATER. Drain the potatoes, reserving the water.

Let potatoes slightly cool and peel. Put the potatoes back into the pot and mash. You can put them thru a ricer or food mill first, for perfectly smooth potatoes, or you can use a hand masher. The idea for this soup is to get it mostly smooth.

For the roux, put 3 tablespoons of flour and 3 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet, stirring together as the butter melts. Cook, bubbling, over low to medium low heat about 5 minutes — just until the mixture barely turns a shade darker. (If you are making soup for less than 4 or 5, cut the flour and butter to 2T each.)

Over low to medium heat, add the cooking water back to the mashed potatoes, stirring until smooth, then add the roux stirring well. Simmer 10 minutes or so, adding more water if soup is too thick. Salt and pepper to taste. (it will need salt!)

My cousins insisted that you had to put the shredded cheese into the bottom of the bowl, so of course we do, using cojack or cheddar or whatever else green-sided hunk of cheese we find in the fridge. Then, add the soup and top with garnish of your choice. The garnish being a Menke addition.Here is the picture Morgan took of her bowl, with homemade fried onion crisps, which were my attempt to combat the yearning for bacon. They scarfed them up so fast there were hardly enough for the garnish. Lord knows there weren’t any left for me today, so I can’t say one way or the other if the idea worked.

And here was my bowl that I had for lunch today. I added some chopped frozen chives for a little kick:

OK, I lied. I couldn’t take it:

I added bacon bits. So shoot me. It wasn’t Monday.

click her to visit jennifers blog for the full scoop!