An interesting irony: Obesity levels continue to climb yet our culture has become so much more food conscious. Only recently has it become trendy to be a foodie. Every day new studies are released touting the benefits of everything from wheatgrass to chocolate. In my family the metamorphosis has been interesting. I was just asking my mom why in the world she would buy grape drink concentrate from the Schwan man. Seriously, this lady is just about 100% organic, and she was feeding our family grape punch. Our favorite meals were veal patties (yes, you read that correctly!) and chicken pie (complete with a condensed cream soup in the ingredient list).
The difference in the grocery stores has been dramatic over the last 15 years. While the organic, healthy, and natural choices are increasing, so are the pre-packaged, processed, and unhealthy choices. I wish we could have a combination of old-fashioned foods with international choices - no pre-packaged yuckiness, but still with the produce and grain choices from across the world. I like to buy locally, but sometimes I need a little variety, especially in the winter. To clarify, I don't buy locally for any "eco-conscious" reasons, simply to pinpoint where our food originates and also to support our local farmers.
Several years ago, when our restaurant choices were limited to chain restaurants, Rob and I enjoyed eating at Pargo's. They served choices like: baked potato soup, burgers, wings, etc. I'd like to think our tastes have evolved a little beyond the menu at Pargo's, but we still enjoy eating like this occasionally. One of my favorite menu items was the baked potato soup, so my mom and I set out to re-create it at least 15 years ago. Now, you could certainly make this soup without the wonderful, melting naughtiness of Velveeta, but I wouldn't recommend it.
This is the perfect wintertime companion!
Baked Potato Soup
3-4 medium-sized baked potatoes (wrapped in foil after piercing skin and bake until tender)
4 spring onions, sliced
4 T butter
3 T flour
2 cups milk
small package Velveeta, cut into cubes
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve the bacon grease)
1/2 cup sharp shredded cheddar
salt and pepper to taste
non-fat Greek yogurt (if desired)
1. Melt butter in medium-sized saucepan. Sprinkle flour and stir until smooth. Slowly add milk and stir until thickened.
2. Add spring onions, and cheeses. Cook over medium heat until cheese is melted.
3. Smash potatoes and add to soup.
4. Salt and pepper to taste, ladle into bowls. Add a dollop of yogurt and additional cheese if desired.