Weekly Winner: Antidote  for Chicago’s Return to Winter

We did it.  We had survived Chicago’s winter!  We made it!  The light was visible at the end of the cold, snowy tunnel.  Temps kept creeping up, inch by inch…degree by degree.  The parka was exchanged for the wool coat, and then an even lighter jacket.  This past weekend, no jacket was required!  We hit 70 on Monday!  And then came Tuesday.

Tuesday blew in with crazy winds and a 40+ degree drop.  It was winter again, or rather still.  We had come so close and got a cruel taste of warmth and then this!  We needed comfort.  We needed warmth.  We needed dairy and carbs!! (And bacon, but then again, when don’t we need bacon?).

The answer was Baked Potato Soup.  This is another recipe that I thought for sure I had written about.  We have made it forever and it is one of our all time favorites.  But apparently not.  So here it is now, in all its rich, hearty comforting glory.  The recipe comes from Cooking Light, and in the interest of full disclosure, I did not use reduced fat cheddar cheese – life is simply too short.  I use the good stuff.



Baked Potato Soup

Serves 8 (or so they say….more like 4 in my house!)


4 baking potatoes (about 2-1/2 pounds)

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups 2% milk

1 cup (4 oz) reduced-fat shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

3/4 cup chopped green onions

6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled


  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Pierce potatoes with a fork; bake at 400 for one hour or until tender.  Cool.  Peel potatoes; coarsely mash.
  3. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup, and level with a knife.  Place flour in a large Dutch oven; gradually add milk, whisking, until blended.  Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 8 minutes).  Add mashed potatoes, 3/4 cup cheese, salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in sour cream and 1/2 cup onions.  Cook over low heat 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with remaining cheese, black pepper and onions.  Garnish amply with bacon.

It’s Official!

Spring has finally sprung here in Chicago and along with it comes the return of one of my all-time favorite events — the outdoor Green City Market in Lincoln Park.  This also marks the return of one of my beloved rituals.

First some info on my obsession with rituals.  The make me very happy.  They give order and pleasure to my life and make me take a moment….stop…think…enjoy.  Now, I’m not talking about big events or superstitions.  I’m talking about taking the time to do things correctly because you’re worth it.  For example, tea.  I will always use a teakettle to bring water to the boil.  I will never simply put a mug in the microwave.  It’s not right.  It’s not the way things should be done.  The same thing with microwave popcorn… please!!  Not gonna do it… wouldn’t be prudent.  Take the time to use a pot, real oil, real popcorn… and most importantly… real butter.

But I digress… today’s ritual.  Every Wednesday morning while the Green City Market is outdoors in Lincoln Park, I jog/walk the 2.5 miles from home to the market and to reward myself for the midweek morning exercise, I buy a brioche roll from a local bakery.  I casually nibble on the roll while I buy my week’s veggies, fruits, cheeses and other breads.  And so it began this morning.

As for my Quick Qi – I was wandering around the market observing the flowers that are finally starting to bloom and the trees bursting with buds when I noticed a new vendor selling pizzas and breads.  He had a warming tray and was handing out handmade mini doughnut holes dusted with cinnamon and sugar.  As I approached, he handed me one and said: “Please take one and enjoy…. congratulate yourself for surviving another Chicago winter.”  Don’t mind if I do!