Pioneer dreams and dinner for one.

Confession: I want Ree Drummond’s life.

I could totally be a pioneer woman! Live on an incredible, expansive ranch. Ride horses at will. Have baby cows running around. (I’d add chickens and baby goats…eee!) Wear flowy tops and cowboy hats. Tend a large, lovely garden. Scratch the ears of a couple of dogs that follow me around. Cook delectable food in a gorgeous, homey kitchen. Feed a flock of sweet, grateful kids and a handsome cowboy hubby.

Have I ever mentioned how good John looks in cowboy boots?

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It’s my alternate dream life. (I also have one that involves me living in a cottage by the beach, gloriously tanned and wearing nothing but sundresses and flip flips, where John is a hot surfer. Hey, IT COULD HAPPEN.)

In my real life, I live in a pretty fabulous home in the mountains. I’ve got a killer view, a great kitchen, a sweet dog with crooked ears to scratch, and John is a very handsome skier and mountain biker. I have nothing to complain about! But I still want to be Ree. The prairie grass is always greener, folks.

There’s a tenuous time during an illness, where you start to feel better but aren’t better yet. You know the scene: after being cooped up for a couple of days, you over-do it before your body is ready and it sends you right back to Sick Town. It had happened to me many times- I get stir-crazy quickly. So instead of braving the cold and going to a late showing of a Sundance movie I really wanted to see, I opted to stay in. Our houseguest had plans and John was out of town on business overnight, so I was on my own. To satisfy my itch to DO SOMETHING, I pulled out a new recipe that seemed relatively easy: Perfect Potato Soup by none other than The Pioneer Woman.

Before I headed into the kitchen, I soothed my itchy throat with hot tea and flipped through a couple of new books.

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The first is called The Small Stakes, and is a collection of music posters by Jason Munn. They’re graphic and modern and simple. Some of my favorites:

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The second book is called Trailerama… and now I cannot wait to get out and about in sweet Betty (a Serro Scotty!) this spring.

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Tummy grumbling, I made my way into the kitchen. I adore making soups. I love how the ingredients all come together to make magic in ONE POT. I also love stashing some of that magic in my freezer for another day. This recipe was straightforward, and I made some tweaks to make it my own.

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Oh, Ree. You know how I love to start a soup, don’t you?

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While the bacon pieces sizzled away, I got to choppin’. Onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and a lot of potatoes.

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When the bacon was crisp, I told it I loved it and removed it from the pan. Into the drippings went the onion, celery, and carrot! Also, SEASONINGS.

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After a bit, I added the garlic, and then the taters. A lot of them. It’s POTATO SOUP, guys.

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For seasonings, I used garlic salt, pepper, lots of crushed red pepper, and something called Oooomph! (a mixture of cumin, paprika, chili powder, and some other stuff). Ree used a cajun spice mix, but I figured this would do.

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It was about now that I realized I’d wanted to include roasted poblanos– and forgotten to roast them. I quickly turned the pepper over the flame a few times until the outside was nice and charred. I peeled off the skin, then seeded and chopped up the poblano. (You want to be sure to get enough char- otherwise, it’s hard to peel off the skin.) Into the pot it went!

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I gave the veggies a good stir and let them cook for a few minutes before I added chicken broth. The soup simmered away for 20 minutes or so, until the potatoes were tender and happy.

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After whisking some flour into a cup of milk, I poured it into the soup. Time to get out one of my favorite kitchen tools: the emulsifier.

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Do you have one of these? You should go get one right now. They are great for making smoothies, salsa, all sorts of fun things. And instead of pouring half of this soup into a blender (as if THAT would go well), I simply tucked the emulsifier into the soup and blended it in quick pulses. So easy!

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I only blended part of the soup. I didn’t want a potato puree; I like chunks, too! While the soup kept bubbling, I grated some cheddar cheese. That’s what I had on hand, but I think a pepper jack would have been perfect. I also chopped up some fresh parsley and cilantro. Fresh herbs make everything better.

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After the seasonings were right and the flavors were coming together into awesomeness, I added a bit of heavy cream, then most of the herbs and cheese. (Save some for garnishing!) The bacon rejoined the party, too. Welcome back.

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Soup’s on!

I topped my bowlful with a little bit more cheddar, parsley, and cilantro. I served some buttered toast on the side for dipping.

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My table for one was ready. And… YUM.

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Despite the amount of cheese I stirred in, it’s definitely not a potato-cheese soup. It’s a tasty, chunky-smooth, hearty potato soup with a spicy kick from both the poblanos and the seasoning. I scooped up bites with my toast and, despite my dulled sense of taste from being sick, it was delish. Very satisfying.

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Changes I made from The Pioneer Woman’s version: I added a lot of garlic, the roasted poblano peppers, increased the amount of parsley and added cilantro, and reduced the amount of broth. This could easily be a vegetarian soup by omitting the bacon and substituting vegetable broth.

There was plenty of soup to stash in the freezer for another “I want soup!” day. John’s going to love this one. Thank you, Ree Drummond!

Is there such a thing as a MOUNTAIN pioneer woman…? I look cute in a cowboy hat.

Potato Soup with Roasted Poblanos and Bacon

(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

You’ll need:

  • 7 slices of bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 6 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used garlic salt)
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun spice mix (I used a mixture of paprika, chile powder, cumin, thyme, celery seed, coriander)
  • Crushed red pepper to taste (I used maybe 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup grated cheese of your choice (I used cheddar)

Add bacon pieces to a soup pot on medium heat. Cook bacon until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Increase heat to medium-high and add onion, carrot, and celery. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes, then add the potatoes and poblanos. Season with salt, pepper, and spices. Stir and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Whisk together the flour and milk and add it to the soup. Using an emulsifier, blend half of the soup in the pot. (You can also remove half of the soup, blend it in a blender, and return it to the pot.)

Adjust seasonings. Stir in cream, and most of the cheese, cilantro, and parsley, reserving some for garnishing. Simmer for 5-10 more minutes before serving. Top bowls of soup with cheese and herbs and don’t forget crunchy bread for dipping. YUM.

20 replies »

  1. I grew up on farms and loved it – still calls to me at times because I am craving a simpler life. I love the Pioneer Woman and her cooking is simply good eats. Have a Great One:) Keep Dreaming!!!

  2. I have those same pioneer aspirations! Wouldn’t that just be ideal?!

    If you haven’t seen the PBS special Frontier House, you should absolutely look it up. They sent three families to a Montana valley for 5 months to live as 1883 homesteaders would have. I remember taping it on VHS when I was a kid and just bought it for myself for Christmas. So fun!

    http://www.amazon.com/Frontier-House-Kristen-Brooks/dp/B00008G7JA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359491593&sr=8-1&keywords=frontier+house+pbs

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