Growing up in small town Gilbert, USA really didn’t lend itself to many experiences in fine dining. The closest thing we had was a Quincy’s Steakhouse chain in Lexington, and Bills Grill for hamburger steaks and tater tots on a Friday night. Don’t get me wrong, I adored the big, fat yeast rolls. But menu options were pretty limited. My exposure to “gourmet” foods primarily consisted of deer burgers, Sweet Sue Chicken and Dumplings, Swanson TV Dinners, and an occasional rabbit stew.
Twice a year we would make a trip to the mall and the best part of the trip was a Chic-fil-a sandwich and an Orange Julius. I about lost my mind when Chic-fil-a began selling fudge brownies! With NUTS! Super score!
That said, there was that one time when daddy decided he would take us to a Chinese restaurant. What? This stuff was nothing like I had ever seen before except in the movie “A Christmas Story” starring Peter Billingsly as Ralphie. I was mortified by the thought of a waiter bringing out a duck with a cleaver and listened closely for even the remotest sign of quacking from the kitchen.
I read the menu, and there was nary a chicken nugget, Chef Boyardee or single fry to be found. I began to feel sorry for poor Ralphie as I was surely walking a mile in his shoes at that very moment. I had no earthly idea what to order. Certainly not duck. I tried my best to avoid eye contact, but the inevitable happened. Daddy asked what I wanted to order.
The waiter looked at daddy. Mama looked at me. Daddy looked at me. I looked at the waiter. Mama looked at daddy. I looked at the wall. Oh, and my feet. I looked intently at my feet as if they would give me some clue of my meal choice. The one thing I did recognize on that menu was potato soup. So I proudly announced potato soup. Now looking back on that meal, I wonder why on God’s green Earth there was potato soup on that Chinese menu. I have never seen it since, but I sure was thankful it was there. Shake my head and bless my heart.
When there’s a chill in the air, certain foods always come to mind, and potato soup is one of those things. Every time I think of potato soup, I think of daddy and the Chinese food experience of 1979. I like to think I have come long way since those days. I am very proud that I am now fluent in ordering from a Chinese menu. Bring on the Duck a l’orange! Wait…that’s French.
Rosemary Potato, Ham and Corn Chowder
- 3 large baking potatoes, cubed
- 5 cups of chicken stock – homemade or store bought
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 celery stalks, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1 large bag frozen corn
- 6 slices bacon, cooked & diced
- 1 cup ham, diced
- 1 cup cheddar cheese – grated
- 1 cup swiss cheese – grated
- 1 small block cream cheese
- 1 small container sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. Rosemary, minced
- Diced Green onion – optional*
- Bread bowl – Optional*
In a stock pot, boil potatoes in chicken stock until done. DO NOT DRAIN. Mash about 1/4 of the potatoes in the pot, leaving the remainder cubed and in tact. Add cream cheese. Bring to a slow boil on medium heat, stirring until cream cheese is melted.
Place butter in a large skillet and add onions, garlic and celery. Saute until onions are translucent. Add to pot. Add sour cream corn, ham, and bacon. Add 1/2 the cheddar and 1/2 the swiss cheeses. Add Rosemary and salt & pepper to taste. Add milk and heavy cream. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Serve in bread bowls if desired and top with remaining cheeses and green onions.
I like potato soup. Bon Appetit y’all!