Its almost Halloween! Stay tuned later this week for costume commentary. But for today, Meatless Monday, let’s talk about the food I associate with this holiday: potato soup.
When I was a child, my Mom always made a big pot of potato soup on Halloween night to consume before hitting the streets. It was usually snowing outside and we’d have to bundle up in coats and hats, covering up our adorable costumes. Mom would fill our bellies with hot soup and buttered saltines before we went out into the cold. Even during the warmer years, we still had our traditional soup dinner. I think it was also to satisfy our appetites and curb us from devouring our candy as we received it.
We had a rule that you couldn’t eat any candy until you got home and Mom checked through the bag. I don’t think people were handing out razor blades or poison anymore, but better to be safe than sorry! I patiently waited while she made sure each piece was indeed still factory wrapped. Homemade popcorn balls usually made their way to the trash unless we personally knew who made them. If the wrapper of a chocolate bar was torn open, into the garbage it went (although I think my brother usually fished them out when she wasn’t looking).
I would immediately divvy up my stash, hiding the coveted Snickers and Almond Joy bars from my brother far in the back of my sock drawer. I would ration these out for the next few weeks, making sure the good stuff lasted as long as possible. Then I’d take the tradable pieces and start the negotiations. My younger brother liked hard candy and sour treats so I could usually score some of his chocolate with 2 for 1 deals.
What were your family’s traditions? Did you also get potato soup? Or was my mom just making this whole “soup before trick-or-treating” thing up? Whether or not she was, I still continue to make potato soup around Halloween. There is nothing like a nice hot bowl of creamy soup to warm your belly on these cool fall nights.
In honor of my wonderful mother and Halloween, here is my latest and greatest version of potato soup.
Recipe: Creamy Rich Potato Soup
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups milk
4-5 potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon thyme (fresh or dried)
1 teaspoon seasoned sea salt (I’m currently using an herbed Italian blend called Vignalta that is delicious in everything)
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne or Aleppo pepper
In a large stock pot, saute onion, celery, carrots, garlic and parsley in butter until soft but not browned. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add broth slowly, mixing well into the roux as you add the liquid.
Add milk, potatoes, Worcestershire sauce, allspice, celery seed, thyme, seasoning salt, and cayenne pepper. Allow to simmer and thicken, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are cooked through, approximately 25 minutes.
During cooking, break up half of the potatoes with the back of a spoon. Serve warm, preferably with buttered saltines.