Sunday, January 30, 2022

Low Effort But Fully Loaded Potato Soup for Cook the Books Dec/Jan Pick "Midnight Chicken" and Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

In a stunning turn of events, ;-) I actually made it into the kitchen this weekend and I am bringing you a new soup this Sunday! Please forgive the fact that it is probably the easiest soup possible in the world, requiring mostly just dumping packaged ingredients into the slow cooker. But it is a soup nonetheless, and a fully-loaded potato soup full of comfort and made for our Cook the Book January/February selection, Midnight Chicken (& Other Recipes Worth Living For) by Ella Risbridger and hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats.

Publisher's Blurb:

There are lots of ways to start a story, but this one begins with a chicken.

There was a time when, for Ella Risbridger, the world had become overwhelming. Sounds were too loud, colors were too bright, everyone moved too fast. One night she found herself lying on her kitchen floor, wondering if she would ever get up--and it was the thought of a chicken, of roasting it, and of eating it, that got her to her feet and made her want to be alive.

Midnight Chicken is a cookbook. Or, at least, you’ll flick through these pages and find recipes so inviting that you will head straight for the kitchen: roast garlic and tomato soup, uplifting chili-lemon spaghetti, charred leek lasagna, squash skillet pie, spicy fish finger sandwiches and burnt-butter brownies. It’s the kind of cooking you can do a little bit drunk, that is probably better if you’ve got a bottle of wine open and a hunk of bread to mop up the sauce.

But if you settle down and read it with a cup of tea (or a glass of that wine), you’ll also discover that it’s an annotated list of things worth living for--a manifesto of moments worth living for. This is a cookbook to make you fall in love with the world again.

My Thoughts:

Midnight Chicken is a charming book, written in the vein of a cookbook/memoir which is my favorite kind. I enjoy cookbooks that don't just give me a recipe, but give me a story about that recipe--what inspired it, why it's a favorite, when they first cooked it, or how they enjoy it. Ella Risbridger does this very well, and when accompanied with the beautiful watercolor illustrations by Elisa Cunningham, it makes for a very pleasurable read to meander through. 

I bought a print copy back in June during the Amazon Prime Day sales and paged through it slowly after it arrived. But then, I gifted it to a friend who was feeling down in the dumps, meaning to get myself another copy, and I never did. Cue the past week where I checked out the e-book from the library in a panic (where did January go?!) and went back for another skim. I found that I could really relate to the author this round, as I have been in a "funk" the past several months, and even something I always loved, cooking and blogging, has become overwhelming. I am mentally and emotionally exhausted and honestly, I have just been doing the bare minimum to get by. While my issues are not as serious as the author's seem to have been, I can understand where she was coming from and I am glad she was able to pull herself out of her depression with support and focus. I'm not sure yet what that looks like for me, but she has inspired me to get to work and figure it out. And I will be grabbing myself another copy of this gorgeous book. 

So, what to make? As mentioned my kitchen efforts lately have been slight, and although I wanted a warm and comforting bowl of soup, I didn't really connect with the soups in the book and wanted something REALLY low effort. I decided to pull out my slow cooker and do a "dump it in" recipe where I didn't have to chop and prep much. Potatoes are my love language and Ella covers them especially in the Picnics and Pack Ups chapter with recipe sketches for Pocket Potatoes and Lid Potatoes (like a twice-baked potato). I put my cubed frozen hash brown potatoes into a fully loaded soup--which just requires some time to cook but very little else. I started mine at 11:00 PM Saturday night, so it was cooking at midnight at least! ;-)

Low Effort But Fully Loaded Slow Cooker Potato Soup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 6 Large Servings)

1 package frozen sautéed glazed onions or 2 large sweet onion chopped
1 large package frozen hash brown potatoes (I used cubed)
1 can condensed cream of celery soup (or condensed cream soup of choice)
1 package Ranch dressing seasoning mix
2 tsp roasted garlic powder
6 cups light vegetable or chicken broth (I used non-chicken stock paste)
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened and cut into pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Optional Toppings: grated cheese, fake or real bacon crumbles, chopped green onions or chives, sour cream 

Dump onions, hash browns, cream soup, and Ranch dressing seasoning mix in bottom of a large slow cooker. pour the broth on top and gently stir. Set slow cooker on high and cook for 4 hours, stirring about every hour. Check potatoes for softness, reduce heat to low and cook another 90 minutes, adding the cream cheese about 30 minutes before down. Let cream cheese melt, stir to mix completely and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Note: you can puree some of all of the potatoes, but I found it creamy enough that I didn't bother)

Serve in bowls, topped with grated cheese (I used a Tillamook Cheddar Mix), chopped chives or green onions, fake or real bacon bits, and a scoop of sour cream if desired. 

Notes/Results: Creamy and indulgent without having to go to a lot of trouble--the hardest thing is cleaning up the slow cooker after, and you can't beat that. I pretty much used everything packaged and I don't regret it, as I now have cozy lunches for the work week. You can of course add other veggies and make more of an effort, but this is a good recipe for a lazy weekend. I will happily make it again.

The deadline for this round is tomorrow, Monday (1/31/22), and Debra will be rounding up the entries for Cook the Books on the website in a day or two. If you missed this round and you like books and food and foodie books, join us for our February/March pic, the novel Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews hosted by Simona of briciole.

Let's see who is in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week.  

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen is here with a Vegetable Pasta Bake (Salad) and says, "I made the tomato sauce for the pasta bake from scratch, but if you want you can use ready made or passata even.  Stir in the cooked macaroni pasta and chopped vegetables: mushrooms, red pepper and spring onions; and for some piquancy capers and black olives. Served like this, its good as a Pasta Salad: warm or cold; or Sprinkle the top with grated cheddar cheese and bake!"  

Melynda of Scratch Made Food shared two salads this week: Mediterranean Cottage Cheese Salad with Za'atar Tomatoes and Olives saying it "is light, refreshing, and delicious! Perfect as a side salad or as the main dish for a light supper or meatless meal.

About her Red Beet Salad with Cranberry Maple Vinaigrette, she says, it's "a unique and delicious salad from our days living on the upper peninsula in Washington state! Don't pass this lovely salad by..."

Simona of briciole stopped by with a Honeynut Squash and Red Beet Soup also inspired by our Cook the Books selection, saying "I was not inspired to make any of the recipes, but one of them reminded me that red beets are called beetroots in England and that inspired me to grab a beautiful bunch of them at the farmers market, with their glorious greens (foglie di barbabietola) still attached. In our household we LOVE beet greens so those disappeared fast. The book includes a recipe for Butternut squash mash, which reminded of a recipe I made some time ago that brings together those two ingredients into a bright soup that is just perfect for when the weather is gray and cold."

Debra of Eliot's Eats shared this pretty Delicata Squash, Apple & Spinach Salad made with items from her weekly farm produce bag, saying, "What was the verdict of this salad? The roasted squash was a hit and this coming from The Hubs who does not care for it. I would probably add some shavings of parmesan to the salad or maybe a crumble of goat cheese. I definitely needed to season the salad dressing a bit more with salt and pepper. I saved some of the squash seeds for the upcoming garden!"

Thank you to everyone who joined me this week! 

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
  • Although we are pretty wide on what defines a soup, sandwich or salad, entries that are clearly not in the same family (ie: desserts, meats, random main or side dishes that aren't salads, etc.) are meant for another round up and will be deleted. 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Updated Link Party--Open through Sunday /13.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. Deb,
    I love this post. The soup looks interesting especially the ease of adding frozen hash brown potato to the soup. I'll have to try it and so many wonderful shares this week. Thanks.

  2. I think sometimes the most difficult part of going through a difficult time is to give ourselves permission to be in that space: we're always under such pressure to go, go, go, but there are times when we just have to stop. And during such times cooking can be a chore, but eating we must and getting all the help we need is great, including food items that make it easier to bring a nourishing meal to the table. I hope whatever troubles you will soon pass, Deb :)

  3. I'm sorry you have been feeling poorly Deb...talking about it does help and you may just need some meds to tweak an imbalance in your system. I will be praying for you.

  4. My goodness -- sounds like your January was much in need of some comforting soup - and this certainly fits the bill

  5. Sorry I didn't comment here? I'm usually pretty good about the CTB posts. Anyway, I loved your soup and thanks for featuring my salad in SS.


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