Have you ever come across a recipe that just kind of made you go "Huh?" You've probably all experienced this when it comes to the degree of difficulty involved in certain dishes. (Like, oh, I don't know ... bear claws?? Don't even get me started on that folding and rolling technique.) But when it's because the recipe appears to be missing steps (or even worse, ingredients), that's a whole other story.
I had a craving for soup the other night (big surprise there, right?) and potato soup sounded SO good. When I was flipping through my favorite soup book, I came across a photocopied recipe for baked potato soup that I had tucked into the pages. Score!
As usual, I did a quick scan of the ingredients and since I had everything I needed, I set to work ... without reading the directions. It's important to note that I often start cooking without reading the directions in a recipe, which is probably a mistake. But since I feel like I have a pretty good handle on this cooking thing, I usually don 't feel the need to study the steps before I get started. In this case, I should have.
I'm just going to reprint the recipe here, verbatim, and see if you can find the problem.
Baked Potato Soup
6 slices bacon, slivered
1 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken broth
4 cups diced baked potato
2 cups milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onion
Bottled hot pepper sauce
Crisp-cooked bacon (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
Italian parsley (optional)
In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat cook bacon and onion until bacon is crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon; set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the drippings in the Dutch oven. Use a whisk to stir flour into reserved drippings. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually add chicken broth, whisking to prevent lumps. Cook and whisk until mixture thickens. Add potato, milk, parsley, basil, salt, garlic, and black pepper to Dutch oven. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add the 1 cup cheese and the green onion to Dutch oven, stirring until cheese melts and soup is heated through. Season to taste with hot pepper sauce.
If desired, top each serving with additional bacon, cheese, sour cream, and/or Italian parsley.
If you're a professional communicator like me, resist the urge to break out your red pen and edit for inconsistencies in punctuation and phrasing, redundancy, and just plain poor writing.
And if you're a cook, resist the urge to point out the seemingly miscalculated ingredients (2 cups of flour?) and poor technique (cooking the bacon with the onion tends to steam it rather than crisp it!).
While all of those things made me twitch, they weren't the real problems with this recipe.
In case you haven't caught it, the most glaring problem is this: they never ask you to return the bacon and onion to the pot! What was the point of frying the bacon and onion if you're not adding it to the soup? I swear I read this recipe a dozen times thinking I was missing something before I was convinced it wasn't me. It was just the worst recipe ever.
As a side note, since I had started cooking before I caught this problem, I simply made adjustments to the recipe to improve it. And I'm happy to report that I was able to save it. It wasn't the best baked potato soup I've ever had, but I have some definite ideas about what can turn it from bad to fab. So stay tuned for my fix soon!