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Good evening WFD'ers and welcome to another Saturday night here at the Great Orange Satan. Here in Medford, Oregon we got a big dose of winter weather this past week starting with bitter cold (well, for us at least) up through yesterday when we got a good 6 inches of snow on the valley floor. Up in the mountains it was closer to 10. Now it's not unheard of to get a bit of snow here, but usually it warms up and it all melts away the next day. Not so as the high today is forecast to be 30 and the low tonight is forecast to be 12!! Same for the next few days. Brrrrrr!!!!

So I thought tonight I would talk about soup. Because baby, it's cold outside!

A few ingredients, some stock (homemade if you've got it!), and a little simmering time and voila! Soup is so easy, and it's a great way to use up leftovers. Sometimes the soup is a full meal all by itself, and sometimes it lends itself to being paired with sandwiches or maybe just some good crusty bread and cheese on the side. Cornbread or biscuits are always a nice addition too for dunking in the broth and sopping up the last drops in the bowl.

I think the first soup I ever made on my own was Cream of Potato. I'd always loved the Campbell's canned version so I called my mom and asked her for advice on making it from scratch. It was super easy and I basically use a similar method for making a Potato & Corn Chowder.

Cream of Potato Soup

2 lbs of potatoes peeled and chopped
2 large carrots peeled and diced
half an onion diced
2 celery sticks diced
4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock/broth
1 cup of half & half

In a large Dutch oven or similar pot heat about 2 tblsp of olive oil to medium low. Add the carrot, onion, and celery and season liberally with salt & pepper. Then sweat (not saute) until veggies are softened and the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes and the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.  
Blend the soup with an immersion blender to the consistency you prefer. If you don't have an immersion blender you can transfer batches of the soup to a blender or use a potato masher.
Stir in the half & half and heat thoroughly. Serve with some fresh chopped parsley or chives. Crispy bacon bits are also a nice topping.

Potato & Roasted Corn Chowder
2 lbs of peeled and diced potatoes
3-4 ears of corn on the cob
8 slices of bacon (or a ham hock if you've got it)
half an onion diced
4 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of half & half

Preheat the oven to 425.
Shuck the corn and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Liberally coat with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Roast in the oven until the corn is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile cut the bacon into small pieces and toss into your Dutch oven on medium heat. Cook until bacon has rendered out most of the fat then add the diced onion. Reduce heat and sweat until the onion is translucent. Add the potatoes and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender.
In the meantime, cut the roasted corn off of the cob into a bowl, scraping the cobs to get as much of the "milk" as possible.
Add the corn to the chowder when the potatoes are mostly done.
Lastly stir in the half & half and heat through. Serve with a pat of butter and lots of fresh ground black pepper.

Kielbasa Cabbage & Potato Soup

1 large kielbasa sausage diced into bite size pieces
Half a large onion diced
2 large carrots diced
2 celery stickes diced
4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 cans of diced tomatoes
4-5 small red potatoes washed and diced
Half a head of green cabbage chopped

Heat 2 tblsp of olive oil in a Dutch oven or similar pot to medium low. Add sausage and saute until sausage is lightly browned and has rendered out a bit of fat. Add the carrots, onion, and celery, season with salt, pepper, a bit of red pepper flake, and some smoked paprika, then sweat until veggies are softened. Add the potatoes, the canned tomatoes including the liquid from the can, and the stock. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender.
Toss in the cabbage and simmer gently until the cabbage is softened. Taste for seasoning then serve.

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