Mashed Potato + Gravy Soup

So...I've had a slight head cold the past few days, which, over the last decade, has been as bad as it gets in terms of my personal wellness, and i feel blessed and thankful despite this stuffy nose, post-nasal drip, and dry, irritated throat. (Ron's alternative health book Radical Healing by Rudolph Ballentine, M.D. says the common cold is a form of emotional and spiritual "cleansing" and post-nasal drip is "internal crying.") After the emotional havoc of this Virgo full moon, and a pressure-releasing massage by Lily Lamberta of Radical Healing Massage, I am in the process of cleansing a lot of stuff right now. And, let's just say, that this stuff causing an uncomfortable pressure in my neck, head and jaw needs to come out! Adios negativity! To the rubbish heap with you outdated beliefs!

Ron, always ready to play the feminine role of caretaker, has been ever-present refilling the tea kettle, popping out goldenseal/echinacea pills, and  making emergency runs to the pharmacy for tissues. I do not take OTC meds, but prefer to heal myself with herbs, rest, plenty of fluids, and energy work/meditation. Oh, and good food. Ron has taken care of this latter necessity as well. He disappears for an hour or two, and leftovers, whey and stock are magically re-purposed into hearty soups, and this one tops the cake! He says it is his best one yet; I would have to agree. It is a roasted garlic potato soup, and it tastes just like mashed potatoes and gravy, that is, if you like your potatoes garlic-y and spiced with chilies, and your gravy infused with fresh sage. We do!

You see? Garlic....Chili...we're trying to kick this cold's butt!

Ingredients (yields 4 servings)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large russet potato, 1/2" cubed
  • 3 large new potatoes, 1/2" cubed
  • 1 head of garlic, unpeeled
  • 4 dried chilies
  • A handful of fresh sage
  • ~2 quarts vegetable stock and/or whey (we used a combination) (adjust more or less with water)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First, start roasting the garlic. Slice the top (not the root side) off of the unpeeled garlic head. Place it root-side down in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Cover and roast until garlic is nice and mushy. Several sites, blogs and recipes use the oven to roast garlic, like the incomparable Martha and Joy the Baker. But for just one head, we prefer this stove-top method which saves a bunch of energy and doesn't take as long. You also don't need any olive oil or s&p since we'll be adding it to soup.

Meanwhile, dice the onion and saute it in the bottom of a large stock pot with the olive oil. Once onions are translucent, add the cubed carrot and potatoes (we clean well, and keep the skins on for added nutrients and texture) and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Then add the stock and/or whey until the potatoes are just covered, or more if you like a thinner soup.

We use our homemade vegetable stock, which we make bi-weekly from compost and table scraps. (I will share this method soon.) This time, we had a gallon of whey leftover from my successful adventures in cheese making (ooey, gooey mozzarella!). We made the veggie stock with the whey, and what was unused from this week's other soups made it into the pot, along with some additional whey (you can use water to fill) to cover the veggies. Then, add your spices: your bay leaves (i foraged mine from the San Jose mountains), sage, chilies and salt and pepper. If your garlic is finished roasting, pop the cloves from the peel and place in the pot.

Bring the soup to a boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. Pour the chunky mixture into a food processor or blender (or use an immersion blender if you are lucky enough to own one!) and blend and pulse and blend some more until smooth and creamy. You can add more water, whey or stock at this point if you want it thinner, too.

Seriously, it tastes just like mashed potatoes and gravy, but probably a lot healthier (no cream, no butter). Now it just needs to be topped with some crispy, fried onions and served alongside some crusty bread and brussel sprouts and you've got a creamy, comfort meal!

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