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Christmas Cooking

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on December 14, 2008

Potato Soup


One Christmas tradition we always had at our house was to enjoy, the Night before Christmas, a large heaping bowl of potato soup. We always had a huge family dinner on Christmas day that rivaled Thanksgiving and had been baking for days, moreso than even before because we added fudge, divinity, peanut brittle and tons of cookies. For years I never understood how my mother made such a wonderful soup. It seemed easy, but I just could not match the flavor or quality of mom’s soup. Several years ago during one of my annual trips to see the family at Christmas time (an 800 mile drive one way), I was pleased that my mom was going to be making the annual Christmas eve soup. I discovered I had been making just a very simple error and since then I’ve definitely gotten the hang of it – What a dummy I was! While we were cooking the soup that Christmas Eve, mom and I enjoyed some quiet time and I brought up the subject of the one time we were in the Middle East and had a somewhat ‘different’ potato soup that year. Mom was always determined that wherever we happened to be, we would try to maintain a semblance of our stateside lifestyle. And that included comfort foods such as potato soup on Christmas Eve – even if it was 120 degrees outside with the wind blowing sand under the door faster than we could sweep it out! This particular year, mom had sent dad to the market (souk) for the groceries and had mentioned she needed more potatoes. I have to remind you at this point that A) Dad grew up on a farm and spent many years in the garden hoeing his share of potatoes and B) food shopping was often a hit or miss deal in the Middle East – more like a treasure hunt. Well – dad brought home potatoes – but they were sweet potatoes! Whatever were we going to do? Mom was great at something I called her ‘make do’ mode – so we were going to make, yep – Sweet Potato Soup! We had always made SP bread, SP pie, just SP’s with marshmallows, SP casserole – so we could do this! It turned out great of course, but never became a staple at our house. But the story, of how dad went out to get some Red potatoes and came home with the sweets, stayed around for years. I decided to learn to make it all over again, using trial and error and some left over sweet potatoes from our Thanksgiving dinner – now I make it whenever I like, and YES – I like! I hope you will like this as well.


Sweet Potato Soup


Peel three large sweet potatoes, cut into small chunks and boil until mushy with a teaspoon of salt (about 20 minutes). Drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water. Mash or puree the potatoes. [Hint: I like chunks in my soup, so I reserve 1/4 of them and cut into little slices to add at the last] [Hint #2 – you can cook the potatoes days in advance or use leftovers!]


Gather your ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Arrowroot (flour works as well)

1 stick of sweet cream butter

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup cream (heavy whipping cream is best, Half–n-half works OK)

½ cup brown sugar

½ Tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or ½ tsp. powdered)

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ ground cloves

1 Tablespoon cooking sherry (optional)


In a large pan, sauté the Arrowroot and butter until you get a light brown roux. Add 2 cups of the reserved water from the potatoes, the sugar and spices. Bring this to a light boil, and then add the precooked, premashed potatoes. Simmer for about 15 minutes, then stir in the cream & sherry; then continue cooking for 5 minutes more. If you prefer a very creamy soup with no lumps, you may want to puree once more. If soup is too thin, simmering for a longer time will reduce moisture and thicken it up – or you can cheat and add a little cornstarch or arrowroot. If you like the chunks, stir them in when the soup is complete and heat thoroughly. This soup is great served hot or chilled (like I had it once on a cruise ship in a prior life) and makes 4 large servings. You can garnish with a dollop of whip cream or even float a few marshmallows on top.


One Response to “Christmas Cooking”

  1. What a great soup, Rhonda! and a wonderful story to go with it. The moral: when life gives you sweet potatoes, make sweet potato soup!

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