On St. Patrick's Day in first grade, my teacher Mrs. Hiatt told our class about going to Ireland and kissing the Blarney stone. I was enthralled. It seemed miraculous to me that the kissing of a cold old stone could procure the gift of gab. At age six, I made up my mind that I would someday go to Ireland, smooch that Blarney stone and secure the golden tongue for myself. (Although, I'm sure if you would have asked Mrs. Hiatt, she would have said I already had the gift of gab in spades. I was forever in trouble for my motor mouth, as she called it. The gift of gab sounds so much dearer than the gift of the motor mouth.) At age 23, I planned a trip through the UK with a friend. We tromped through England, Wales, Scotland...and then political trouble kept us out of Ireland. I've always felt cheated out of my first grade dream, plus I sort of forgot about it for about a decade, in pursuit of other dreams for other grades. (I think it's been revived by all the cheap travel offers that keep finding their way into my inbox.) So, I've started saving. I have exactly $432.78, about 1/20th of what I need to get my family of four to the Emerald Isle. It's further motivation to keep the grocery bill down, since the savings go straight towards my dream fund.In the meantime, here's a taste of Ireland that anyone can afford. This luxurious soup is a little on the creamy and indulgent side, but it makes a delicious St. Paddy's day lunch or dinner. Especially with a corned beef grilled cheese on the side-see you Sunday with the recipe.
Money Saving Tips: Use homemade chicken stock, canned broth or bouillon cubes in this soup. Buy the 5 lb. bag of potatoes, since you'll use half of it here. You can swap out the half and half for canned evaporated milk.
Creamy Potato Soup
Estimated Cost: $6.00 for 6 servings
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 medium potatoes, (about 3 pounds), peeled and roughly chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
5 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup half and half
about 1 teaspoon lemon juice
a few drops of tabasco
In a large stock pot, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add onion and cook until softened about five minutes. Add potatoes, carrots and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until vegetables are softened. Using potato masher, roughly mash vegetables in pot, not into a puree, but into small pieces. In a small bowl, combine remaining 3 tablespoons butter and flour into a smooth paste. Stir into soup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly and cook for about three minutes, or until soup thickens. Stir in half and half; reduce heat and do not return soup to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, lemon juice and a bit of tabasco. Garnish soup with chives.
Corned Beef Grilled Cheese Sandwiches