Let potato soup take you to the dark side

Black potatoes. I mean super black, completely black potatoes.

That’s what I put on the table for dinner a few nights ago, and fortunately, they were delicious.

I mentioned recently that I’ve been trying out preparing a bunch of meals at a time, freezing them and cooking them off in my crockpot, and this past week, it was time to pull one of the freezer bags out and see what happened.

But the potatoes were black. I’m not sure what chemical reaction happened in that freezer bag, but the nice, white Russet potatoes that went in the bag were not what exited when I dumped the contents into my crockpot.

They didn’t smell bad or look like they had a weird texture, so I just went for it and followed the cooking instructions. The resulting soup was very good, and the addition of barley into it gave it a wonderful, earthy flavor. Black potatoes or not, I’ll definitely make this again.

This comes from the blog “New Leaf Wellness.” You can find the original post at http://newleafwellness.biz/2015/01/05/make-ahead-crockpot-meals-only-4-40-per-meal/. The author has quite a few other freezer meals as well as an electronic cookbook available. I changed the spices and doubled the garlic in my version. I also went ahead and doubled the recipe to make two batches of soup. It uses up the ingredients much more efficiently.

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Crockpot Ham and Potato Soup

Ingredients

1 pound carrots, peeled and diced

4 small (or 2 large) potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

4 large ribs of celery, diced

2 small (or 1 large) onion, diced (I used yellow)

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup uncooked barley (not quick cooking)

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

pepper to taste

4 chicken bullion cubes

16-ounce bone in ham steak, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

12 ounces evaporated milk

Directions

Start by preparing two gallon-sized freezer bags by writing directions for cooking on them. Include the name of the soup and the date you will place it in the freezer. Also, leave yourself a note that the soup will need to have four cups of water added to it when placed in the crockpot, it will be cooked for eight hours on low, and you will add the evaporated milk to the crockpot when the soup is done, leaving the lid cracked slightly and cooking for an additional 15 minutes or until it’s nice and hot.

Also, have two sandwich-sized plastic bags on hand. Split the 12 ounces of evaporated milk evenly between the two smaller bags, squeeze out as much air as you can, and set them aside.

Prepare all of the vegetables, the ham steak and seasonings and distribute everything evenly into each large bag so you have two batches of soup prepared.

Squeeze out as much air as possible, seal carefully and place the bags (along with the baggies of milk) into the freezer for a future meal.

The night before you want to cook the soup, place one of the large bags and one of the bags of milk in the refrigerator to thaw. Add the soup to the crockpot along with the water and cook according to the instructions listed above.

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If you want to skip the crockpot, you can just dump everything but the evaporated milk into a large pot and simmer on the stovetop until the carrots and potatoes are soft. Then add the evaporated milk and let simmer another 15 minutes before serving. You’ll probably have to add more water as the veggies cook.

And if your potatoes turn a weird color, don’t be afraid to give it a shot anyway. Maybe you can convince your dinner companions that you bought some kind of exotic, fancy potato. It can be our little secret.

Lindsey Young is managing editor of The Clarion, the Kansas Publishing Ventures newspaper in Andale. She can be reached at lindseyclarion@gmail.com.