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Friday, September 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 71.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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A star potato soup (recipe)
Garlic confit, turkey stock and cream set sippers on the road to bliss
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Credit:Sid Richards

The week after Thanksgiving, I participated in a Chicago-grown mobile soup charity event called "Soup and Bread," which made its stop in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. I prepared a garlic mashed potato soup steeped in reverence of Thanksgiving leftovers, which are to me almost as good as Thanksgiving itself.

There's not much to the soup: potatoes, cream, garlic confit and stock. But the foundation of a good soup is a good stock, so I highly recommend making homemade stock if you can. It will add incomparable flavor and a velvety texture.

Of course, it's okay to use store-bought stock for convenience. Just freshen it up with another key component: a "sachet," a fancy-sounding French word meaning "bag of…," well, whatever you want. In this recipe, sachets filled with herbs that I associate with potatoes are used to pack in flavor every step of the way. The soup is simple, but does require a little time to let these flavors develop.

This is a great one for cold, blustery days - your house will smell so good you won't want to leave. And garlic is great for the immune system. Go easy on the portions; a little goes a long way with this luxurious cream soup.

Garlic Mashed Potato Soup

Blending mashed potatoes is generally a no-no because it makes them gluey, but in this soup, the starchiness leads to the desired thickening action. If you over-thin your soup you can also make and whisk in a roux (flour and reserved clarified garlic butter in equal weights) to correct it.

  • Yields about 1 gallon
  • 1 garlic confit (recipe below)
  • about 6 cups turkey stock (recipe below)
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • about 4 pounds yellow fleshed potatoes like Yukon golds), peeled, whole

In a large pot, cover potatoes by at least an inch with cold salted water (should be as salty as the ocean) and bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Add sachet. Depending on the size of potatoes, simmer 20-30 minutes until tender all the way through, but firm enough to hold shape. Drain and mash with potato masher or process with a potato ricer.

Heat potatoes, garlic confit and 4 cups stock in a large pot with second sachet. Add cream and bring to a low simmer, about 10-15 minutes or until herbs are aromatic. Blend smooth with an immersion blender or blend in batches in a standard mixer. Adjust consistency with remaining stock, salt and pepper to taste. Soup should be thinner than baby food, but thick enough to coat a spoon.

Garlic confit

  • 7 heads of garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 pound of clarified butter

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put garlic cloves in a small oven-proof container, completely cover with clarified butter, and seal with lid or cover with foil. Bake about 1 to 1-1/2 hours until garlic is very tender.

Strain garlic from butter (you may reserve for another use) and smash garlic into paste.

Turkey stock

Turkey carcasses left over from Thanksgiving make for a great stock. Supplement with roasted chicken if your turkey parts don't amount to enough for this recipe. Yields about 1/2 gallon

  • about 4 pounds roasted turkey carcass (wings, body, drumsticks, neck, etc.); or substitute equivalent in roasted chicken bones
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If using chicken, roast chicken until golden brown. If using leftover turkey parts, the roasted leftovers are stock-ready.

Lightly toss vegetables with vegetable oil and spread in a single layer on a pan.

Turn vegetables every 15 minutes or so, allowing sides in contact with the pan to develop a rich brown color (depending on the size of your cuts, about 30-40 minutes should be sufficient).

Assemble stock pot: Cover bones with roasted vegetables (and scrape up the browned bits stuck to the pan, which add great flavor) and add water; bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer. Skim fat and scum occasionally.

Add sachet after 3-4 hours and simmer an additional hour. Remove bones and large pieces with tongs and strain stock with cheesecloth.

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