28 October 2012

Shrimp and Potato Porridge






This is originally a Paula Deen recipe that I've messed with.  Shocker, I know. 
Her recipe is titled Potato Soup with Shrimp, but a dear friend was eating this four or five years ago and said, "Ann Lowrey.  What we've got here is not soup.  This is Porridge." 

I did not argue, though as I sat down to write this, I did google out of curiosity.  [It remains quite frustrating to me that curious has a u and curiosity does not.  What ridiculousness.]

Porridge is actually traditionally made of oats - we just call it oatmeal here in America.  However, there is such an animal as Potato Porridge - a Norwegian tradition.  I am not Norwegian, and neither is my friend proclaiming this to be porridge - in fact, we're both quite Irish with a little English thrown in.  But, for today, we sing the song of Norway proudly.

1 stick of butter
1 large onion diced on the small side
3 carrots, diced
 2 T all purpose flour (optional)  This gives it a more porridge-y consistency, but if you are trying to avoid gluten, leave it out.  The potatoes will make it plenty thick.

6-7 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-1 inch cubes
4 cups milk (whole, 2%, 1% - again, depends on what's in the fridge, but I usually use whole)
2 chicken bullion cubes dissolved in
1/2 cup hot milk

1 cup half and half
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled (cooked already is fine, but I prefer throwing it in raw and letting it cook in the soup.  I have my reasons.  If I type them here, it will take too long.  The moral of the story, though, is that you shouldn't be scared of shrimp - they cook in mere seconds). 

So, in soup pot, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Toss in those onions and carrots.  Enjoy the aroma.  Stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes, allowing them to soften thoroughly.

Add the flour, stir for a minute or two. 

Add the milk, potatoes, and bullion dissolved in milk. 

Let it cook for 30 - 45 minutes over medium heat. 
Now, you can let it go a bit longer and the potatoes will fall apart for you.  Or you can stop at 30 minutes or so and use an immersion blender on it.  Or you can usually, at about 45 minutes, use a potato masher.  The point, is you don't want potato chunks.  It's a porridge - which basically means mush.  You wouldn't think it would be awesome.  But you'd be wrong. 

After it's all mashy and pasty and you accidentally lick a bit off the wooden spoon and think, "Damn, baby, you so fine," because you will channel Will Smith in his freshest Fresh Prince days, then, and only then, should you add the remaining ingredients. 

Add the salt and pepper and the cup of goodness.  Bring to just shy of a boil.  Don't let it boil - I don't know this for sure, but it seems to me that half and half has a tendency to curdle more readily than its cream or milk brothers. 
After it's as hot as it can get without boiling, throw in the shrimp -

It will cook in 2 minutes - really - I promise.   And you'll be ready to go. 

My top ten favorite meals involve this soup and a really bad for me grilled cheese. 

And then all shall be well.  All manner of thing shall be well.   Very well, actually. 

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