Thick and creamy homemade potato soup is another family favorite at our house in the fall and winter. If I have leftover ham and bean soup in the freezer, I just use that as the base. Last week, I had to start from scratch. Even so, this doesn't take much preparation as long as the bacon is cooked ahead of time. This recipe calls for the soup to simmer for about 45 minutes, but I have cooked it on medium-high for about 20 minutes and then transferred it to the crockpot on low heat for the rest of the afternoon if we will be out until dinner time. You can easily exchange other vegetables you have on hand to replace what's in the recipe below.
Microwave or fry 8 strips of bacon (or use 1 cup of cooked ham.) Crumble and put aside. In a large pot with the lid on, cook 8 medium diced potatoes, 1 medium chopped onion, 1-3 chopped carrots, 1 chopped stalk of celery, 1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes, 2 bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste in 8 cups of chicken broth for 45 minutes. Retrieve approximately 1 cup of the cooked potatoes and mash with a fork. Return to the soup. Stir in 1 cup milk, 2 Tablespoons of butter, all of the bacon or ham, and 2 Tablespoons of corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water. Stir and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add 1/2-1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and heat on low until cheese melts.
This is delicious with warm homemade bread just out of the oven.
We also tried these Pumpkin Spice Smoothies that I saw on Pinterest and all over Facebook. I think we were expecting something like the pumpkin spice frappuccinos from Starbucks, so our taste buds were surprised by the lack of sweetness in these homemade smoothies. It makes me wonder how much sugar or syrup is in the pumpkin drinks found at various commercial establishments. Below is my modified recipe to make these more palatable. Even with the added sugar, they were still nowhere near as sweet as what we've found in the coffee shops or smoothie stands.
Pumpkin Spice Smoothies
In a blender, mix 1 (16 oz.) can of pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 2 cups milk, 12 ice cubes.
This is a fun fall afternoon treat for everyone.
To see the original recipe I found on Pinterest, go to: