Its funny what sticks in people’s memories, and what doesn’t. For example, I remember Athena’s blue leather shoes. We were 7, and her shoes had a flower design cut out at the toe, and buckles. Athena remembers my mother’s potato soup.
Last fall, we were sitting in a Lower East Side bakery, shivering every time the door opened and a gust of bitter wind swept down our collars, when Athena asked about my mother’s potato soup. “Which one?” I replied.
“The thick brown one, with cheddar in the bottom of the bowl.” The perfect soup on a cold, dark night-- thick, and rich, with chunks of cheddar, minced onion, and a drizzle of apple cider vinegar. I had completely forgotten about it. Athena had not.
Two days later I called my mother for the recipe, and made the soup. It’s easy. Start with 5 or 6 medium sized potatoes, and enough water to completely cover them in a pot. While the potatoes are boiling, make a deep brown roux using a stick and a half of butter and ¾ cup of flour. Mash the potatoes, mix them back into the boiling water, and then slowly add the roux, stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper, and cook over low heat until it thickens. If the soup gets too thick, add a bit more water. Serve with cubes of cheddar cheese, minced onion, and a splash of vinegar.
Athena has since moved on to warmer climes, but for those of us still enduring the winter winds, there is nothing like a warm bowl of soup to help us thaw out, from head to toe.
* Freeze the leftovers, because…Next week: Chicken and Potato Potpie