Sergeant pepper and my questionable knife skills

I loved the chili that I made in my slow-cooker so much that I wanted to give the slow-cooker another try. I wanted to do a roast or some sort of chicken, but, as usual, I ended up choosing a soup. There’s nothing else like soup when the temperature drops below thirty and when you don’t feel like doing anything but curling up under a blanket with something warm. Another perk for me, since I bring lunch to work almost every day, is that soup reheats and travels well. And yet another, which I seriously cannot mention enough, is that I have dinner for days. I think I may have mentioned before how lazy I am.

I stumbled across this recipe from a blog by Stephanie O’Dea, who made a New Year’s resolution back in 2008 to use her slow cooker every day. I ended up choosing a potato soup topped with bacon. I’m of the opinion that bacon makes anything better. When I was apartment-hunting, I met a girl who called bacon the candy of meats, and now that’s become a term my family uses regularly.

I used to make a potato carrot cheese soup, but it takes me about 4 hours and much more counter space than I have in my current apartment. It will take weeks for me to muster the energy for that soup. This soup, however, was easy. The trouble with using my slow-cooker is that I have to get up early and at least put the ingredients in. Getting up early to do that means I couldn’t go to the gym in the morning, because there’s no way I was going to wake up even earlier. So the plan was to go to the gym after work. But, I worried that by the time I got home the stuff in the slow-cooker would have been overcooked into mush or somehow have caught on fire and burned the house down.

Then I decided to stop being an idiot and set my alarm, and go to the gym another day. The recipe was simple—diced potatoes, minced garlic, salt, pepper, chili seasoning, and then add cream cheese after the rest was done cooking. (It was supposed to have an onion, but I no longer trust the internet on the subject of onions and decided to leave it out.) When my alarm went off in the morning, I jumped up, ready to feel all domestic. Half an hour was more than enough time to chop up some potatoes and garlic, right?

WRONG. In my excitement I’d forgotten a crucial step—washing and peeling the potatoes. Well, “forgotten” isn’t the right word. I’d just forgotten how long that can take. A half-asleep perfectionist trying to peel and dice potatoes in the morning is a terrible, terrible idea. I was even trying to dice them in a fancy way, after all the peeling, by cutting four edges off the potato to make it a square, then cutting long strips (but holding them together), flipping the potato two more times and cutting. This is a super fast way of dicing, but it’s also dangerous. At one point I was cutting lazily, probably falling back asleep, when I felt a hard nub with my knife. What’s that? I thought. And then OH MY GOD I realized it was my finger (thankfully, before I kept cutting). I hear real cooks talking about knife skills, and even though it always sounds a little homicidal to me, I’m thinking maybe it’s something I should look into.

I rushed through the rest of the preparation, tossing in salt and pepper and chili paste in sort-of measurements. I should mention that I was halving the recipe, since it was meant for a 6-quart slow cooker, and mine is only 4 quarts. I was rereading the recipe once everything was in the slow cooker, making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, and I realized that I hadn’t actually halved the pepper. But, it’s just a flavoring, right? It would be fine. I put the lid on, turned it on low, and left only 10 minutes late—the pepper was a worthy price to pay for not being super late.

I wasn’t able to leave work until almost 6, so I worried and worried that I was going to come home to a host of fire trucks. But when I got there, the potatoes looked perfect and it smelled peppery and delicious. I mashed up the potatoes so the soup was smooth, and added in the cream cheese. I used Neufchâtel cheese instead of cream cheese to reduce the fat content a little bit. But then, I cooked up some bacon to crumble on top, totally negating any worries about fat and worries about whether the soup would be tasty or not.

It took longer than I expected for the cheese to melt, and for a little while it looked like I’d be eating potato and cream-cheese chunk soup. (The recipe says I should’ve crumbled the cheese in, but how the hell do you crumble cream cheese?) Eventually, it was smooth and mixed, and I poured a bowl for myself, bacon included.

Pepper, as it turns out, is not a spice to fuck around with. It was spicy. I rather liked it, but any more pepper and it probably would have been inedible. However, I’ll be eating bacon for days, and that can only mean good things.

2 Responses to “Sergeant pepper and my questionable knife skills”
  1. Angela Vasquez-Giroux says:

    yuuuuum. you know, for next time, you can dice the potatoes the night before, and store them in the fridge in cold water with a bit of lemon juice added. then you won’t have to worry about your fingers!

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