A couple of years ago, I bought Southern Seasons, a beautiful and delicious (the recipes, not the book itself) coffee table cookbook. The recipes are from chef/restaurateur, Robert St. John, and on each page there are beautiful watercolors by artist, Wyatt Waters.
Thanks to my good friend, Peggy, we walked down the streets of Clinton, MS to Waters’ gallery to buy some of his lovely work. Wyatt has partnered with several authors and provided gorgeous drawings and watercolors for their short stories and cookbooks. Not only is Wyatt amazingly talented, he’s also a really nice guy.
Below is a luscious potato soup recipe from the cookbook. There are quite a few ingredients, but it’s an easy soup to make.
Baked Potato Soup
½ pound of diced bacon, 1 T butter, 1 cup diced onion, ½ cup diced celery, ½ cup diced carrot, 2 t minced garlic, 2 t salt, 2 t ground pepper, 2 lbs. peeled and ½-inch diced potatoes, 1 ½ quarts chicken broth, ½ cup butter, ¾ cup flour, 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 1 ½ cups milk, 1 cup sour cream, 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese, 1 t hot sauce, and ½ cup finely chopped onion.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan and brown the bacon. Pour off grease and add vegetables, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook 4-5 minutes. Add potatoes and broth and slowly simmer until the potatoes are tender.
In a skillet make a roux by melting 1/2 cup of butter and then stirring in 3/4 cup of flour. Carefully whisk the (light blond) roux into the soup mixture. Try not to break up the potatoes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Top with green onions.
Note: At times, I’ve reduced the heavy whipping cream to 1 cup and increased the chicken broth to 2 quarts (because, well, I’d like to fit through the door) and it still tastes really good, although not as rich. This makes a huge amount and is great for a crowd. My kids love it when I serve it in a bread bowl. Southern Seasons can be found at Wyatt Waters’ Gallery at www.WyattWatersGallery.com and in downtown Clinton, MS. (Thanks, Peggy for taking me on that walk!)
This next dish is my own discovery (although once when I told my sister about it, she told me that she also made this dish, so I’m guessing it’s not all that original.) When you see the ingredients below, you’ll probably agree that you’ve made something similar.
Easy Hearty Pasta Dish
½ box of bowtie or penne pasta (cooked)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 cup of diced green pepper
1/3 cup of diced onion
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
8 oz. package of shredded three-cheese (e.g. Asiago, Romano, and Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1 teaspoon of oregano
salt and pepper
3-4 leaves of fresh basil, diced
1 jar of tomato sauce (any brand, although I am partial to Ragu)
Brown the sausage (remove any casing) in the oil and about half-way through, add the onion, green pepper, and minced garlic and continue browning. Stir in salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. Stir in sauce.
Here’s the easy part – mix together the cooked pasta, sauce mixture, and ½ the cheese and pour into a large casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, until bubbly. Top with the remaining cheese and put back in the oven until the cheese is melted, about 5-6 minutes.
Note: At times, I’ve added 1 cup of Ricotta cheese which turns this into a really easy lasagna.