By: Shannon Smith | Category: Restaurants | Issue: January 2021
I always think of January as the perfect month for making soup since the weather is chilly, and soup warms the body and soul. This January, however, I’ll be spending most of my time in Mexico where the weather is pleasantly warm. I’ll be studying different Mexican cuisines around the country, and I’m sure soup will be on at least one of my cooking agendas.
I’ve already made a lot of soup this winter, and one of my favorite ways to make it is in the blender. In my cooking classes, I’ve taught an entire lesson on blender soups and the ease of making them using whatever vegetables you prefer. Surprisingly, carrot soup is a crowd favorite, but my personal favorite is potato. All you have to do is boil or roast your vegetables, whether it’s carrots, squash, asparagus, broccoli, or potatoes. To add more flavor, sauté your choice of aromatics, such as onion, garlic, chiles, ginger, and leeks. You can keep adding flavors with herbs, spices, butter, and cream. Then blend it all together in a blender or food processor until it’s smooth, and you’ve created a soup that perfectly suits you. Don’t forget to season it with salt, which is an entirely different class I teach!
I’m sharing my recipe for loaded baked potato soup, which is potato soup made in the blender, loaded with some of my favorite toppings. I made this a lot in college and learned from my roommates that cheese and sour cream aren’t the only toppings for a potato. One girl taught me that her family used chopped tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, and boiled eggs to load their potatoes, and I’ve become a fan. In my family, you could never add enough butter (actually margarine because my mom thought butter was fattening), which is why I use a half stick of butter in my potato soup. Feel free to add more; just don’t use margarine because it’s no substitute, despite my mother’s wisdom.
Whether we have a cold or balmy winter in Oklahoma, soup will still be simmering on my stove. When I return from Mexico, I have a feeling my soups will be a bit spicier and topped with fried tortillas. I’ll have a whole new repertoire of recipes to share, both on my website and my cooking classes, which will resume at the end of January. You can read more about my travels, classes, and recipes at chefshannon.com.
Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Serves 4 - Potato soup is one of the easiest soups to make, and I because I love a loaded baked potato, I make my soup with all the toppings I would use on a loaded baked potato, including cheese, bacon, and chives. If that isn’t enough, I add chopped tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream. The soup takes just 30 minutes to make, and uses just one pan if you use an immersion blender. I recommend making a double recipe since it reheats easily and makes great leftovers.
In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add onions and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook one minute. Pour in broth and milk, and add potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat and insert an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. Alternatively, you can pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth, then return to the saucepan. Re-heat soup if needed, then ladle into bowls. Top with cheese, bacon, and chives and serve.
I’m Chef Shannon Smith, creator of chefshannon.com, a website where I share my travel adventures, cooking experiences, jewelry creations, life stories, world travels, recipes, cooking classes, and jewelry art. In the past ten years, I’ve traveled to 52 countries, and I hope to add at least that many more over the next ten years. In every country, I am blessed to meet interesting people, learn new cultures, and try all kinds of delicious food. I take cooking classes, join food tours, meet with chefs, and often dine with people in their homes or restaurant kitchens. I’ve lived in Tulsa for over 30 years, and I love teaching people how to cook, especially dishes learned while traveling around the world. Some of my favorite cuisines are Indian, Moroccan, Turkish, Israeli, and Italian, although Indian is the cuisine that makes me the happiest. I’ve collected numerous recipes and methods for making delicious food, and I share those recipes on beadsandbasil.com. I teach classes several times a month when my travels allow. Those classes are advertised on the website but are almost always filled within hours after posting, so I also occasionally teach cooking classes to private groups. My readers and viewers get to learn about my cooking adventures, utensils and appliances. At last count, I have eight grills, two tagines, 22 knives, and ninety-four thousand serving dishes - at least according to my husband. My refrigerators are filled with nuts, cheese, and dried fruits I’ve brought from other countries. And my spice cabinets contain a menagerie of exotic and odiferous seeds, pods, and dried herbs that I use so many ways. Jewelry art is my other favorite activity. I create jewelry from beads and trinkets collected on my travels, including amber from Russia and Estonia, glass from Murano, Italy, paper beads from Rwanda, and old Yemen prayer capsules from Israel. I have an Indian friend who has some of the most beautiful semi-precious stones that he cuts into beautiful shapes. Several times a year, I attend national bead and jewelry shows where I search for unusual items to complete my creations. Many more adventures are planned for the future, and I’m excited to share them with you in my monthly column in Values Magazine, including recipes, cooking tips, interviews with my favorite Tulsa area chefs, cookbook recommendations, travel stories, my favorite local food trucks, and ways we can give our time and talents to our fantastic community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram at Chef Shannon.
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