All summer I have been craving potato soup. Don’t ask why, I’m not too sure. It might have been nostalgia for the holidays when my family always has potato soup for Christmas Eve, or the coming of the cooler fall weather in the Midwest. Either way, when I saw the recipe for Smoky Potato Mushroom Chowder with Marjoram in The New Polish Cuisine by Chef Michael J. Baruch (found at the Iowa City Public Library), I just knew I had to try it.
After reading through the recipe to make sure that this wasn’t something that would take a day to put together, I headed for the grocery store, shopping list in hand. I was hoping this excursion would prove to be fruitful, and not require traversing all across town in search of obscure ingredients. The ingredient I was particularly concerned about was Maggi seasoning. I had to do some researching (aka Google-ing) ahead of time to determine what to look for…spice, produce, sauce…what was it? FYI – Turns out it is a sauce, not too different from soy sauce, but with a stronger flavor and smaller glass jar.
NOTE: If you are planning to try this recipe at home, I would suggest substituting soy sauce if you don’t already have Maggi seasoning on hand.
I quickly realized, while shopping for ingredients, that this recipe could turn into a $40 meal. Not exactly what I had in mind. So, instead of the fancy yellow baby Dutch potatoes that were $5 for a 1 lb. bag, I substituted the slightly larger Yukon Gold potatoes which were a far better deal. Other ingredients were shitake mushrooms, hickory smoked bacon, leek, celery, onion, garlic, chicken stock, heavy cream, Maggi seasoning, and Tabasco. For spices, the recipe included thyme, bay leaf, sea salt, black pepper, parsley, nutmeg, and marjoram. The recipe called for all of these spices in the fresh version, but I was alble to substitue the dried version instead, and made it out of the store for about $20-25.
After waiting patiently to see/taste the finished product, I decided that this Polish recipe is what I would consider a gourmet take on traditional potato soup. It had a nice smoky flavor and was much less heavy than more traditional versions. I will definitely make this again, and am thinking the flavors would be a great addition to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
Natalie Nielsen, International Food Blogger