With one of my daughters getting over a raging ear infection (reminder to wear EarPlanes if you have a bad cold and must fly) I thought I’d whip up a batch of Potent Potato Soup, the yogis’ go-to remedy for fighting off a cold or flu. Are you familiar with Yogi Bhajan’s “Potent Potatoes” recipe? Potent Potatoes are knock your socks off twice baked stuffed potatoes, with a red chile-laden and Yogi Tea spices-infused, onion-ginger-garlic masala. Take these very same ingredients in a big pot, add water, a few other key ingredients, and then get ready for takeoff!
My visit to North Carolina with family over the long New Years Day weekend was nearing its end. With soup in mind it was time to start using up some unused veggies in the fridge, and also possibly make do with incomplete ingredients. Let me say that the soup was still crazy good!
First off I prepped the onions, garlic and ginger, because those are the first things that go in the pot with a little oil or ghee for frying. A little hint on peeling and chopping garlic, if you don’t already know… Crush unpeeled whole cloves by pressing down on them with the flat side of your chopping knife. This smashes them a little and loosens the papery skins so they come off in a jiff. Then with a few quick chops your garlic will be ready to go.
I found a nice big stainless steel sauté pan and put it to quick use, heating up some olive oil and adding the onions and garlic so they could start browning while I finished chopping the ginger. Then in with the ginger to sizzle with the spices…. Crushed red chiles, turmeric, freshly ground black pepper, 6-7 whole cloves, cinnamon, and a spoon of cardamom powder (pods or seeds also are fine to use). Usually I would add a tablespoon of caraway seeds too, but lacking those added a teaspoon of cumin seeds instead. Then I remembered we had a half yellow and a half green bell pepper in the fridge and thought they’d make both a pretty and tasty addition. Oh, and a half lemon too, nimbly sliced up and into the pot with the diced peppers.
When all that was very well done and the fragrance of my gingery garlickly spicy masala filled the air, it was ready for the water. Because my ailing daughter was starting her trip home the next day, I wanted to send some soup with her. If it was concentrated, I could give her a half-filled quart container…. All she’d have to do is add hot water when she was on the train home. So I only added about half the water along with the chopped potatoes with potato skins intact. Oh yes, potato skins. One of these days I will tell you the story about a sick potato farmer with healthy ducks. However, today we are discussing soup, and as this was coming to a boil I investigated the fridge for any more suitable veggies. Hark! There was a half bunch of dragon kale and a half bag of wild arugula. The combination of cruciferous/bitter greens and potatoes is one of my favorites. Bingo! First you have to pull the kale greens off the stem. Just hold on to the stem end with one hand, and with the fingers of your other hand, pull the greens down the spine starting from stem end. As you do, the greens easily tear off. Then you are left with white stem spears, which may be saved for using in a puree or veggie stock. As for the kale and arugula greens, I chopped them up in thin short strips and tossed them in the pot, along with about a half cup of frozen peas. Now it just needed to simmer for a good half hour or so, until the potatoes were cooked and the whole thing was nicely done. Pretty, yes? And a word or two about the lemon: Definitely include! Lemon gives a perfect taste of sourness to this soup. I suggest that you cut them in wedges so those who prefer may easily avoid or remove them from their soup bowl. If not so timid of tongue, cut the lemon half into thin slices – this is a more palatable size to bite into. The cooked lemon peel is quite a tasty surprise. I love a little bite here and there. When everything is cooked and lovely, add tamari soy sauce and/or salt to taste, and a half bunch of chopped cilantro. Manifest divinity! I packed up a little more than a half quart for my daughter’s train ride, and then added enough water to the remainder in the pot to make a hearty broth. We each enjoyed a bowl right then and there, with a dollop of plain yogurt and little garnish of chopped cilantro. A chunk of toasted bread spread with ghee was a simply divine addition.
Potent Potato Soup
Yield: 8 generous servings
Well worth giving this one a try my dear friends. This soup is invigorating and healing. To make it more so, I would recommend adding a teaspoon of ajwain seeds (see Turmeric & Ajwan for Immune Strength) and (if you want to really clean things out) an extra teaspoon of crushed red chiles with the other spices to sizzle with the frying onions, garlic and ginger. Feel free to add any greens on hand, such as mustard, beet, kale, or dandelion greens.
⅓ cup ghee or oil
4 cups chopped onions (2 big onions)
¼ cup minced fresh ginger (or more to taste)
10 cloves garlic, minced (1 bulb)
½ organic lemon, seeds removed, and cut into 3 or 4 wedges
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds or 1/2 tsp. powder
1 teaspoon crushed red chilies
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves or 5-6 whole cloves
2 quarts water
1½-2 pounds potatoes, cut in large bite-size pieces
4 cups chopped greens (optional)
Tamari soy sauce to taste
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
Prep onions, garlic, ginger, and lemon. Heat ghee or oil in skillet over medium-high flame; add onions, garlic, and ginger and fry over medium-high until browned (about 10 minutes), stirring often, adding small amounts of water as necessary to prevent scorching.
Now add lemon and spices and sizzle for another 2 minutes as you stir. Add water and bring to a boil. While water is heating up chop any other vegetables or greens you have selected and add to the pot. When at the boiling point, lower heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until all are well done. Add tamari soy sauce to taste. Stir in cilantro before serving.
Top with dollop of plain yogurt or slice of melting cheese (Jack, cheddar, gouda).
Garnish with cilantro or chopped green onions.