Now, be warned — this is me in the kitchen. I long ago came to the conclusion that when I cook, it’s like being in the darkroom or making drawings — it seems to be a right-brain sort of thing, with not a lot of conscious decision-making going on. It’s more like “this needs this, and a little more of that”. Which means there’s a lot of room in my recipes for you to exercise your own creativity.
First, the ingredients, for about 3-4 cups of soup:
2 large potatoes
2-3 cups chicken or vegetable stock to cover
garlic (I use 6-8 large cloves)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream
Optional: Pancetta or diced ham
Peel the potatoes, or use a scrubber to remove most of the skin, then cut them into medium-size chunks and put them in a saucepan with the stock. Add the garlic and half of the onion. Simmer until the potatoes are soft, then add the pancetta and the rest of the onion and cook for another couple of minutes. Then mash the potatoes (I use a wire whisk), add the butter (about half a stick in my kitchen) and the cream (just enough to thin the soup out a bit, maybe a half cup, depending on your preference), and stir until the consistency pleases you. (I don’t mind a few lumps, but that’s up to you.)
Serve hot with nice crusty bread and salad on the side. It’s really good with the addition of sliced smoked or Polish sausage, or chunks of smoked ham, maybe even a little grated cheddar cheese on top — for a meal in a bowl, you can add vegetables, maybe sliced carrots or green beans. It’s up to you.
And in summer, skip the pancetta and serve it cold, with chopped chives as a garnish, and call it vichysoisse.