Saturday, January 8, 2011

Scent-sational Cooking

One of my favorite ways to cook is while sipping on a nice glass of wine and having one of my favorite candles lit.

I love cooking and I find such satisfaction in making a dish that taste delicious; warming the soul and tummy.  The way I cook, though, is one that I don't know if I've ever seen anyone else do, I cook by smell.  I have never been a person who uses recipes.  I cook off the top of my head, and with the items I have on hand.  I believe that God gave us the sense of smell, taste, touch, hearing and sight for a reason; and what better reason than to cook?

As long as you know your spices, just by smelling your dishes, you can typically tell if it needs a little salt, garlic, basil, paprika, etc; something sweet or savory.  You can tell, while stirring, if they are too thick, too thin or soupy, or just right (when working with soups a simple way to thicken them is with a rue, but that will be another blog).  Making your dishes beautiful is much more difficult than it sounds, and this isn't necessarily an area I've conquered with great success.  As long as it looks good to you, that's all that matters.  There is a very good chance that our meals will not make it to the table with the same presentation produced at Mesa Grill.  Hearing the sizzle of bacon, the bubbling of soup or searing of a steak all indicate that a fantastic meal is nearly finished.  While, the blaring of a smoke alarm lets you know that a quick trip to McDonald's is probably in order.  The great part of this is that, since we tend to 'eat' with our eyes and nose first, you know you can trust your senses while cooking.  The not-so-great part of this, for me at least, is that there are no real recipes you can give your friends, if they ask.  Maybe it's because I don't start with recipes and everything is a little of this, a bit of that, a touch of this, a dash of that.

Tonight I made, for the first time, a creamy potato soup.  We were wanting grilled cheese sandwiches and a creamy soup because it is so cold and windy here right now.  So, instead of Campbell's soup or making (another) batch of Chicken Noodle Soup, I decided that I'd put to use some stock that I've had simmering all day.

Tonight we dined on Oh So Gouda Cream of Potato Soup (yeah, it's a cheesy name...ha ha ha.....get it) with sliced, toasted french bread that was topped with cheddar, fresh basil and finished off with fresh slices of tomato (for me and Molly anyway....we are the only ones in the house that like fresh tomatoes).  It was delicious!

Here is my version of a recipe for the soup.  I'm not much better at writing recipes than I am one who follows them.  Of course, if there is anything you don't like in this recipe, you can leave it out, or if you have milk on hand, and I used half and half you can use what you have. 

Oh, So Gouda Cream of Potato Soup

3 c. chicken stock for base
1/4 c. chicken stock for flour mixture
4 forkfuls (see...I'm not kidding when I say my measurements are funky) all-purpose flour
4 large potatoes
3 oz. Gouda
2 tsp. butter
1/2 bunch of green onions
6-7 large button mushrooms
1/2 c. half and half
5-6 large leaves of fresh basil
1 glass of wine (one that you would drink, not just cook with)

To taste:

Finely chop potatoes, mushrooms and green onions (if you use some of the white part of your green onion, it will add delicious flavor!)

Sip on glass of wine.

In a large pot, warm 3 c. chicken stock.  In a coffee cup (or anything you want to use), combine flour and 1/4 c. chicken stock and stir until flour is dissolved.  Add flour mixture, butter, half and half and spices to stock.  Stir while on low to medium to low heat until flour has completely worked it's way into the base of your soup (the reason for this is so that you don't scorch, or burn, the bottom of your pot with flour that may 'fall' to the bottom). 

Sip on glass of wine.

Add gouda, potatoes, mushrooms, fresh basil and green onions to the broth and simmer on low until potatoes are tender.  20-30 minutes is what it took my soup.  Stir occasionally.

Sip on glass of wine.

*  I added half and half without measuring it...but, you may find that you want more liquid, depending on the consistency you like.  If that's the case, feel free to add more stock or half and half.  I don't suggest water because I don't know if it would water down (yeah, couldn't think of a better term here) the soup.
** You may notice that I never brought my soup to a boil, to then cut it back the heat to a simmer.  I did this because I wanted to be able to control the rate at which the flour combined with the liquids and the cheese melted within the soup.

Please have fun with this recipe and add items that sound good to you, and if you would like, post them under "comments" so that others can try. to pour another glass of wine! 


  1. I've never tried cooking this I will give it a go..but I am BIG into texture! something can taste like heaven, and I won't eat it cause I do not like the way it feels. LOL

  2. I use a recipe the first time I make things and then from there I "wing". I give the author a chance to prove themselves before I jack with it. Then after that I just do it from memory.

  3. I was going to make this soup again for the upcoming storm that will have us snowed in (they are calling for 5" where we live...and, yes, in NC that will shut down our whole city). But, before warming my stock I thought of frying bacon in the pot I'll make my soup in, leaving behind only the bacon fat for flavoring. I don't like the way that bacon in a soup, even after being cooked to crispy, turns a bit soggy. So, I'll reserve the cooked bacon to top off the soup before serving and add grated cheese to the top, as well. Yummy!--So far I'm pretty thankful I didn't resolve to lose weight this year. I enjoy really good food far too much to give it up.