Rosemary and Cayenne Potato Bacon Soup

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A longtime university roommate of mine, Alice, and I had a love for hosting people at ours for dinner.  Looking back, our dinner parties seemed to be more of an excuse to get people to bring us booze.  We’d set out appetizers for our guests in the livingroom and we’d get drunk in the kitchen by accident off of the guests’ wine, improvising dishes, throwing handfuls of this and that into pots and pans whilst exclaiming, “Ehh, why not?”.  However, everything usually turned out quite well and we still managed to impress.

Most of the time, we couldn’t afford nice dinners like this, but we definitely made the most out of what ingredients we had on hand.

This soup was inspired by one of our favourite wintery side dishes: root vegetables roasting in the oven with heaps of garlic and handfuls of rosemary.  We often had a sweet potato here, a russet potato there, and lots of dried herbs on hand.  This was a simple staple dish for myself and Alice, whilst we suffered through the frightful Ottawa winters together. I’m not ashamed to admit that we’d often eat this side dish as our main meal.

With an extra hour’s time due to daylight savings, I decided to turn this garlic and rosemary dish into a potato soup and kick it up a notch with a bit of a cayenne heat to warm my bones on the first cold November Sunday.

  • 5-6 white or yellow potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium sized carrots, diced
  • 2 medium sized onions, diced
  • 8-10 slices bacon, chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of milk or half and half
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt and pepper

Cook the bacon over medium high heat in a large soup pot until nicely browned.  Drain most of the grease from the pot.  Drain bacon on paper towel and set aside.

Add celery, carrot, and onion to the pot, sprinkle with salt and ground pepper and cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until they soften and add the potatoes, garlic, cayenne, and rosemary.  Cook for another 10 minutes, add the broth, deglaze the pot and bring to boil.  Gently boil for another 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

In a small sauce pan, heat the butter on medium until gently bubbling and slowly whisk in the flour.  Remove from heat as soon as it has thickened.  Stir mixture into soup, along with milk or half and half.  Set heat to low.

Ladle 1/3 – 1/2 of soup into a blender.  I prefer to blend 1/3, as I like my soups chunkier.  Pulse until smooth and pour back into pot.  Add the bacon and spoon into bowls.  Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Serves 4 – 6.

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