Today is the third and final Ember Days of the Spring Season. It is also National Baked Scallop Day. Now I thought long and hard about what to share for today’s recipe.
We’ve done two Baked Scallop recipes over the years for National Baked Scallop Day. After all, you can bet your bottom dollar that Baked Scallop Day will fall during the Lenten Season. In 2020 we had Scallops in their Shells for Baked Scallop Day. In 2021 Baked Scallop Day actually fell on the 4th Friday of Lent. So Oven Baked Scallops served with an arugula salad, warm bread and a crisp wine seemed perfect.
I thought soup would be nice. The lights came on, I got excited – Scallop Chowder! Except we had Scallop Chowder for Ember Days Saturday last year even though it wasn’t Scallop anything day.
Hum – what could we do? While there are hundreds of wonderful ways to make and serve Baked Scallops, I decided to go in an entirely different direction. Forget scallops.
After all, it’s by design that Ember Days are particular Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays of the year. Wednesday Christ was betrayed. Friday He died for our sins, and Saturday was that long, dark day before the Resurrection. It was the thought of waiting in sorrow that made me realize on this Saturday of Lent, it is comfort we need. What could be more comforting that a bowl of creamy, warm soup?
One last confession – the original recipe called for Chicken Stock. When I made this soup, I looked in the fridge for a carton of Chicken Stock. The only thing in the fridge was a carton of Beef Stock. The Chicken Stock was in the hall pantry, top shelf. Now I could have carried a step-stool down to the hall pantry and gotten the stock myself or I could have asked my 6-foot 4 Hubby to get it for me. Hum. He had just sat down in his recliner. It would be a shame to disturb him. And frankly, I really don’t like dragging the step-stool about. So that just left one more option – use beef stock instead of chicken stock. Wow – the beef stock brought a whole new level of depth and flavor to this dish. So glad I made that one little change.
Happy Ember Days Saturday everyone!
Russet Potato Soup
6 Russet Potatoes
6 slices Bacon
2 ribs Celery
1/2 large Yellow Onion
10 Baby Carrots
3 tablespoons Butter
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt, divided
1-1/2 teaspoons Black Pepper, divided
3 tablespoons Flour
2 cups Half-and-Half
1-1/2 cups Beef Stock
1/4 teaspoon dried Thyme
Cayenne Pepper to taste
Chives for garnish
Peel potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks. Place potatoes into a large pot and cover with water; bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
While the potatoes cook, cut bacon into 1/2-inch pieces. Place bacon in a large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until crispy, about 8 minutes. Drain bacon slices on paper towels, divide in half and set aside. Reserve bacon grease for another purpose.
Trim ends of celery, cut ribs in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch pieces, set aside. Cut onion in half from root to tip. Reserve half for another purpose. Peel and dice remaining half, set aside. Cut baby carrots into bite-size pieces, set aside.
Melt butter over medium heat in the saucepan used for the bacon. scraping up any bacon bits the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged wooden spoon. Add celery, onion, carrots, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook and stir until tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in flour; cook and stir for 2 minutes.
Pour half-and-half and beef stock into the saucepan. Stir to distribute flour into the liquid. Add potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Stir in half of bacon pieces. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until flavors combine, about 10 minutes.
While the soup simmers, snip chives and set aside. When ready ladle soup into serving bowls. Garnish with remaining bacon and a sprinkling of chives. Serve and enjoy.
Serve with warm rolls or fresh baked Crescents.