photo copyright Alyce Morgan, 2003
I had a farm in Ireland…….
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Not.  I did, however, visit once.
I wish I could go back.
I can’t go today, but I can make Potato Soup and Irish Soda Bread on
St. Patrick’s Day……
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I’ve been making this meal for a long time.  I love it, but I don’t make it any other time of the year.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be special if I made it, say, in May or September.  You, however, have no holiday strings emotionally strumming over these recipes and could make them next week or next year.  Go you.  So, here’s the soup………..and then the bread–
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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potato soup with leeks and bacon
2 slices of bacon, diced; 1/4# Canadian bacon, chopped*
2 onions (different kinds are nice), chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 leeks, chopped
3 large pototoes, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces, optional
6-8 cups unsalted chicken broth
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 c Greek yogurt or sour cream
parsley or dill
In an 8-10qt soup kettle, saute bacon until about half-done; add Canadian bacon.  Cook until well browned.  Remove meats  from pot and drain on paper towel-lined plate.  Cool and  refrigerate until you’re going to serve the soup.
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Pour out all but enough bacon grease to coat the bottom of the pan well.  Add onions, garlic and leeks and saute until almost golden, stirring often.  Add potatoes, turnip and parsnip and cook 2-3 minutes until hot.  Add chicken broth.  Bring to a  boil and lower the heat.  Simmer until all vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste. 
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Puree (you can choose not to, as well)  in food processor, with hand-held blender or by hand using potato masher.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a bit of the bacon and ham and a garnish of fresh parsley or dill.  Make sure there’s fresh ground pepper at the table.
*You could choose to use all bacon.  You can also stir in all of the sour cream into the pot for a creamy soup.
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There isn’t much better than soup and bread anywhere.  If you’re cold.  If you’re really hungry.  Can you think of anything better? Kids eat this.  Lots.    I have a friend whose husband doesn’t like soup,  Just doesn’t like it at all.  He did, however, eat soup at my house once.  And asked for the recipe later. Such folks are few and far between.  Who doesn’t walk in a house, smell soup simmering or bread baking and go, “Wow!  It just smells so good in here.”  And, while we can’t always put our fingers on what makes us happy in life, we do know we like it when the house smells like something good to eat.  Those  “Wow”s come with big smiles and anticipatory movements that include looking around for the delighting elements.  So, here’s the bread.  More on the provenance later.
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irish soda bread, american style
                        Baker’s Note:  Irish butter is well worth the splurge.
4 cups flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
1/4 c butter
1 1/2 c currants or raisins
1 1/3 c buttermilk (+ 2-3 T, if at altitude)
3 large eggs
1 t baking soda
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Grease a 2 quart  round bowl (ovenproof), casserole or  deep cake pan. OR Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for a free-form loaf.
Preheat oven to 375F.
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In food processor, or large mixing bowl, measure dry ingredients and mix well.  Cut in with blade attachment or with knives or pastry blender, the butter. 
In a large mixing cup, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs; add the currants and baking soda.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix well to form a very wet dough. (If using a food processor, add the liquid ingredients first and then stir in the currants by hand to avoid mincing the currants.)
Turn dough into the prepared baking bowl and bake for about an hour  (or a bit more)  until bread is very well-browned and firm in the center, approximately 45-55 minutes.  A wooden skewer stuck in the middle of the bread should come out clean or nearly clean.  You may have to test several times. (Alternately you can bake a free-form loaf:  Remove the wet dough from the food processor very carefully, if using,  with well-floured hands to a floured board or counter and knead briefly, adding a bit of flour as needed to get the dough to hold together well.   Shape into a round or oval 10-12-inches in diameter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Bake about 45-55 minutes.  The bread is more easily done through in the free-form version and is just as tasty.)
Let this bread sit 15-20 minutes before cutting or it will crumble.  Serve with lots of salty Irish butter, please.  Cool completely before wrapping tightly in foil and storing in the refrigerator.  Will keep 3-4 days.  Excellent leftover just as it is, but even better for toast made under the broiler. 
Me and the green.
A couple of notes on the provenance of the recipes:
I began (and later changed) the potato soup years ago from a recipe called  “A Cold Winter’s Day Potato Soup” from THE EASTERN JUNIOR LEAGUE COOK BOOK, edited by Ann Serrane and published by David McKay in ??1980.
The bread recipe is one I have no idea about from whence it came.  It’s on a recipe card I’ve had for so many years.  I’d guess I copied it out of a magazine or a book at the library one day as a young wife.

originally posted march 2010

Sing a new song,
Alyce 

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Lentil-Wild Rice Soup with Kale and Chicken Sausage 

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