A Simple Feast for a Little Known Saint

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Bibiana. Not many know of this Virgin Martyr of the early church. She is the patron saint of Single Laywomen and Torture Victims. When you learn of her life and death, those make sense. She was single, and was tortured to death for her faith. Saint Bibiana is also the patron saint of Epilepsy, Hangovers, Headaches, Insanity and Mental Illness. Those are connections that escape me.

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Gotta Love Sourdough Bread!

Today is National Sourdough Bread Day. I kicked around a lot of ideas for today and decided to go with the bread bowl idea. It really doesn’t matter what you put into a sourdough bread bowl, from chilies to chowders to soups and stews, it’s all delicious. The bread bowls just make the presentation extra special.

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National Homemade Soup Day

In the winter, one of Kiddo’s favorite suppers has got to be homemade soup. And of all the soups I’ve made, a creamy potato soup is one of his all-time favorites. I’m not sure if it’s the soup, the cheese or the bacon that he loves most.

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Cream of Potato-Onion Soup

A little while back, I made up a big pot of my Creamy Potato and Bacon Soup to simmer all day in a crock pot. My guys had worked their tails off, and a rich, creamy bowl of soup seemed the right choice. Kiddo surprised me by not only having seconds, but darn near climbing into the pot to lap up every last drop. He really liked that soup.

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Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus Baked Potato Soup

One upon a time, Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus Restaurants were all the rage. It was a great place to hang out, to go for drinks, maybe dance a little (back in the day when their lounge featured live music) and get a great steak dinner. The perfect “date” destination in its heyday.

One of my favorite dishes was their Teriyaki Steak, all sweet and topped with a beautiful grilled pineapple ring. And their Molten Lava cakes – out of this world! Black Angus was Brother Dear’s first real job. When Hubby and I were newly weds, we often stopped in for dinner, making it a point to send word back to the kitchen so that Brother Dear knew we were there. We had a contest of sorts with him. Hubby and I always started our meal with the same appetizers – the Buffalo Wings. The challenge was for Brother Dear to whip up a platter of wings that were too hot to eat. It was a game. Truth be told, there were times when I could barely handle the heat, but Hubby always managed to polish off whatever Brother Dear sent our way. How I miss those days, and Brother Dear.

This recipe (with a few modifications) is one of those Copy-Cat recipes that has been floating around the internet for a while. Just how genuine it is, I would not care to speculate. What I do know is this, the soup awesome – packed full of creamy goodness. And it would make a great base for other similar soups – add some carrots and celery. How about some shrimp? Or even a terrific base for creamy clam chowder. The possibilities are endless.

I served this soup with plenty of buttery, garlic infused crescent rolls and a simple salad. It made for a great, simple supper on a cold December night.

Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus Baked Potato Soup
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 Medium Onion, finely minced
3 tablespoons flour
1  can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
5 Medium Russet Potatoes, peeled
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
1⁄4 teaspoon white pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
1 dash Tabasco sauce
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup half-and-half
6 Strips Applewood Bacon, cooked crisp
2 Green onions, chopped
4 Tablespoons Sour Cream
Grated Cheddar Cheese, optional

Peel potatoes and cut into bite size cubes, about 1/2 inch. Set aside until ready to use.

In a stock pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes, being careful not to brown the onions.

Sprinkle flour over the onions and cook about 5 minutes, stirring often. This will create an onion infused roux, and will thicken to form a paste.

Gradually add chicken broth, stirring to dissolve onion paste.

Add potatoes, Tabasco Sauce, garlic and seasonings.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and blend in remaining tablespoon of butter. Cover and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes to keep potatoes from sticking.

While soup is simmering, fry up bacon strips. Place on paper towels to drain, crumble and set aside. Chop green onions, set aside.

Once potatoes are fork-tender, stir in half and half; and heat through, about 5 minutes longer.

Ladle soup into bowls or large mugs. Pass the bacon, green onions and sour cream to garnish. Finish with cheddar cheese, if desired.

Slow Simmered Creamy Potato and Bacon Soup

It was one of those rise and shine before the Rooster’s crow mornings. Outside the rain fell and I could hear it softly tapping on the window panes. The air was cold and crisp and clean. I love busy mornings – it gets my heart to pumping. I went through my check list. Lunch packed – check. Breakfast Blend coffee in the French Press – double-check. Creamy Potato and Bacon Soup simmering in the slow cooker – you bet. I could still smell the lingering scent of fried bacon. The whole of the kitchen smelled warm and inviting. I love the smell of bacon cooking, don’t you?

Just a few quick tips before we get into the recipe – white pepper is mild BUT a much finer grain of pepper, so a little quarter teaspoon goes a long way. Be sure to taste and adjust accordingly. Let your bacon crisp a bit before adding the onions – the onions are going to impart some liquid that will hinder the bacon’s ability to crisp if added too soon. Since I knew my soup was going to simmer in the pot for more than the recommended 7 hours, I cut my potatoes a bit larger than “diced” as the original recipe called for. I was afraid that if I cut the potatoes too small, they would fall apart. While you don’t want huge chunks of potato in a soup deemed “Creamy” you DO want some potatoes to be recognized as potatoes and not mushy stiff-stuff. Once the soup is finished, you can always break up any large chunks if you like. I didn’t find it necessary.

Buttery-Chive CrescentsThe final cooking time of 30 minutes for the soup to thicken is just the right amount of time to bake up some Buttery-Chive Crescent Rolls. It also give you a few minutes of down time to relax, kick off your shoes and settle in for the night. Savor the wonderful smoky aroma floating from your slow cooker, toss a salad and maybe pour a glass of wine. Before you know it, dinner is served.

Hubby isn’t a big soup eater. The fact that he complimented me on dinner and went back for seconds tells me this is one soup he really enjoyed. Besides the convenience of having a stress-free supper waiting at the end of the day is that my guys truly enjoyed this yummy soup. Gotta love cold nights if for no other reason that it brings out the best of soup makers in all of us.

Creamy Potato and Bacon Soup Slow Cooked
6 slices bacon, cut into pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
2 (14.5 ounce) cans Chicken broth
5 large potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup Wondra or all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half cream
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
4 Tablespoons Chopped Red Bell Pepper, garnish
4 Tablespoons Chopped Green Onion, garnish

Lay strips of bacon in a stack, slice into pieces. Place in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Stir fry bacon until just beginning to brown. Add diced onions to the skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Continue to cook, stirring as needed, until the bacon is evenly browned and the onions are soft. Drain off excess grease.

While the onions and bacon are cooking, peel and dice potatoes. Set aside until ready to use.

Transfer the bacon and onion to a slow cooker. Add potatoes and stir to incorporate bacon-onion mixture with potatoes. Stir in chicken broth, salt, dill weed and white pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for about 7 hours. (Longer is fine, too).

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, Half-and-Half and Evaporated Milk. Stir into the soup along with a teaspoon or so Garlic Powder. Increase slow cooker to HIGH and cook soup another 30 minutes uncovered. This will allow soup to thicken, taking on its creamy characteristics.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls, garnish with chopped bell pepper and green onion. Serve with crescent rolls, if desired.