Skip to content

No Offense To Bears Or Harry S. Truman

I drive a banged-up Volvo.  It has a busted tape deck, a window that won’t roll down, and a windshield wiper that sounds like an injured hyena.

The Blue Book value of the car is $1,100 if it’s in good condition.

It isn’t.  Part of the gear shift came off in my hand.  The air conditioner blows a lukewarm draft that’s probably. . . not asbestos-free.

Lately it’s been smelling like bear pee in there, so I got one of those strawberry-flavored deodorizers to hang from the rear-view mirror.  This immediately made things worse.  Now it smells like a bear broke into the back seat and peed on a box of strawberry fruit roll-ups.

The trunk, however, is pretty clean.  The only things in there are:

  • a rocking chair
  • an Easter basket in the shape of a duck
  • two boxes of saltwater taffy
  • a biography of Harry S. Truman

Did you know that President Truman never ate butter or sugar?  He only had one piece of plain bread per day–at breakfast.  After breakfast he took a two-mile walk, and then he poured himself a “morning bourbon.”

I read that yesterday while I was getting my oil changed for the first time in 3 years.

The recipes I’m about to throw down are not on the Harry S. Truman diet because the Harry S. Truman could kill you.  But I did make you something pretty healthy: a creamy potato and onion soup without any cream!

We get a mountain of potatoes and onions in our CSA share every week, so I came up with a thick, simple soup to use them all up.  It tastes like there must be a pint of cream in there, but there isn’t a drop.  All the creaminess comes from whipping the potatoes with the beef stock and the onions.

Eggton’s Creamy Potato & Onion Soup {Download & Print Recipe}

You can increase the beef broth if you want, but just be sure to start with a 1:1 ratio of cups of potato to broth.  Also, it’s important to cook the potato before tossing it in with the onion.  I tried this a couple different ways, and when I didn’t boil the potatoes ahead of time (but rather just cooked them in the beef broth), the soup lacked flavor.


3 cups cooked potato (about 2 medium potatoes)

2 Tbsp. butter

1 large onion, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

3 c. beef broth or beef stock

2 tsp. sherry (optional)

salt & pepper

sour cream (optional, as garnish)


In a pot of water, boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes, until they’re fork tender.  Transfer the potatoes to a plate and let cool.  Peel them and roughly chop them.

In the meantime, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and onion and cook 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent.

Add 3 c. of the chopped potato to the saucepan and toss to combine (reserve the rest for another use.)  Sautée another 5 minutes.  Add the beef broth or stock and the sherry, if using, and reduce heat to a very low simmer (so it’s not really bubbling).  Simmer another 5 minutes and remove from the heat.

When the soup has cooled enough to handle, carefully transfer it to a food processor and process until smooth.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.  The soup will be thick.  If you don’t like it this thick, add some more beef broth (and reheat if necessary).

Serve the soup with a dollop of sour cream in the middle and garnish it with chives, a fresh herb, or chopped celery leaves if you like.  (The dollop of sour cream really puts it over the top.)


P.S. Food & Wine’s lemon-blueberry cheesecake parfaits are amazing.  They take some time–you have to make shortbread cookies, lemon cheesecake mousse and blueberry compote–but it was worth it for company.  It reminded me of a key lime mousse pie: you toss some citrusy shortbread in a glass, add the lemony cheesecake mousse, and drizzle with fresh blueberry compote.  The crunch of the shortbread was great, but you could speed things up by substituting store-bought chessmen cookies or chunks of boxed yellow cake.

Click here for the recipe.


Guarding the diet coke (kind of)–a dog after my own heart.

49 Comments Post a comment
  1. whiskydrinkinchimneysweep #

    Did you taste the deodorizer in order to accurately dub it strawberry “flavored”? When I was a kid I purchased a can of moist cat food for my cat, of course. Well I was sitting in the car while my mom was in the grocery store and I thought it a good idea to open the can of cat food to see what it smelled like. It smelled like canned corned beef hash. So I took a taste. It didn’t taste like corned beef hash. Moral of the story, place a bowl of vinegar in there overnight and it may help deodorize your pet bear’s left over stank. I’m only assuming you have a pet bear.

    The soup looks amazing as do the parfaits.

    August 23, 2012
    • Wait, can I start putting bowls of vinegar everywhere? Like, in Scott’s cloest? Or is this car-specific advice you’re givin’ me?

      I have never tasted cat food but I always assumed it was delicious. When I read the descriptions of the cat food cans in the pet store, I get hungry. Stuff like “Savory salmon stew with baby peas and cream?” I’d eat that. Or at least try to eat it, like you did!

      August 29, 2012
      • Yes! Put that vinegar everywhere. And you’re always welcome to jump aboard the cat food eating train. It’s just me, a bunch of cats, and some homeless people.

        August 29, 2012
  2. I am glad you are not on the bread and bourbon Harry Truman diet, Katherine. That parfait looks wonderful — I skipped right to dessert! We have apple pies in the oven and the smell is driving me mad…

    August 23, 2012
    • Apple pies, pear french toast… your kitchen is amazing, and it sounds like you’re into the autumn swing. It was cool the other day and now it’s hot again, and I was just starting to get giddy at the thought of fall. Sigh. I’m going to do a little dance when I see my first sugar pumpkin.

      August 29, 2012
      • I love the fall, when the days are bright and crisp. Our weather is see-sawing here — one day cold, next day hot — had to sleep with the window open last night.

        August 29, 2012

    August 23, 2012
  4. HargravesRyan #

    Thanks for the recipes and the Presidential knowledge! The soup looks so delicious, I am going to celebrate my anticipation with a half-mile run and an afternoon bourbon. . .

    August 23, 2012
    • Excellent choice, my friend. I like Truman’s exercise advice better than Jefferson’s. That Jefferson quote they have when you swipe your card at the AFC scares the crap out of me. Doesn’t it say something about exercising 3 hours out of the day and going to bed at, like, 9 pm? Ugh.

      August 29, 2012
  5. Mandy #

    Fun fact! Harry was an interesting man, staying healthy was important to him. His personal physician actually created a game for him to play to keep him in shape called Hoover Ball. Here’s a link to the wikipedia article: It’s actually quite fun to play.

    August 23, 2012
    • Mandy, that’s so cool. Funny that now it’s part of cross fit. Maybe we should get a medicine ball, although I haven’t used the jump rope I bought more than ONE TIME. I am way too uncoordinated, apparently.

      August 29, 2012
  6. Lucas #

    Just a Seymour picture? No picture of Thunder?… Seems like Seymour is stealing his Thunder…

    August 23, 2012
    • BUSTED. I’m sure Thunder is livid. I guess I’ll have to double up on the bulldog photo quotient in the near future…

      August 29, 2012
  7. Kate #

    Ahhhhh, Truman! He also took a nap every day after lunch. Just one of the many things I admire about him. Did you also see that the “S” is not short for anything? His middle name is just S.

    August 23, 2012
    • Wha? So I’m wrong to put a period after it in his name, huh?

      You should probably make sure that your new baby starts taking a nap after lunch everyday. It’ll make it a lot easier when he invents an iPhone app and buys us all a couple houses in Spain, what with the culture shock and all.

      August 29, 2012
  8. Okay, let me see if I have this right: if I eat a piece of bread for breakfast every day, take a two-mile walk followed by a glass of bourbon every day, and never eat butter or sugar, I could become president? Sign me up!

    August 23, 2012
    • FACT, current presidential candidates notwithstanding.

      August 29, 2012
  9. How can you have salt water taffy in your trunk? Why isn’t it in your mouth? Honestly.

    Also, it’s pretty clear that your Harry S. Truman and I wouldn’t have been friends. Because this body runs on butter and sugar. Exclusively.

    On the plus side, all of the bad news you just dumped on me has been cancelled out by that wicked-awesome looking soup. Because right after butter and sugar? Potatoes. I eat ’em like… well, like butter and sugar.

    August 23, 2012
    • For the record, the salt water taffy hasn’t been eaten because it was lost under a blanket and a couple other things that I didn’t mention in my post because I was already starting to sound like a hobo, and I didn’t want people to start seriously questioning my mental health.

      Which they’re now free to do.

      August 29, 2012
  10. Hey, I used to drive that car! I have a different one now, but I do still have an Easter basket (two, actually) in the trunk, plus…oh, never mind. The soup sounds great.

    August 23, 2012
    • Hee hee. It’s going to be awesome when we move our Easter baskets out of the way to make room for Christmas presents in a few months. We’ll have the most festive trunks around!

      August 29, 2012
  11. Well, I don’t see anything wrong with adding a slice of bread and a breakfast cocktail for the perfect accompaniment to your potato soup (after all, you did include sherry. Let’s get this party started!)

    Any recommendations on which type of potato works best?

    Also, I see there is no bacon?!?

    August 23, 2012
    • Aha! Sorry about that important potato detail. I think I used russet potatoes. I can’t be sure, because they came in my CSA share, but I’ll ask the farm and if it’s NOT russet potatoes, I’ll let you know. I’d say. . . use a potato you’d enjoy baked.

      You are right, there is no bacon! Travesty! I’m sure Scott will realize this soon and demand that we change the recipe accordingly.

      August 29, 2012
  12. Bear urine is a harsh mistress. So useful for keeping deer out of the garden. So not useful as air freshener. Next time let the bear eat the taffies and maybe it won’t pee in the trunk.

    August 23, 2012
    • Brooke, you are full of helpful advice, like leaving taffy out for the bears. Honestly, you should start an advice column. You can count on me to write you, like, 10-14 letters per week.

      August 29, 2012
  13. “Nah, Mom, is jus’ my footboard. Nice ‘n’ rattley when I kicks it in my sleep runnin’ after the bunnies.”

    August 24, 2012
    • Awww, that’s adorable to imagine!

      August 29, 2012
  14. I hear Harry Truman pee was much worse.

    August 24, 2012
    • Honestly, that is seriously, seriously, funny.

      August 29, 2012
  15. sashaandhersaga #

    Oh this made me chuckle! I, too, have had some strange odors in my car. However, I’ve never smelled bear pee, so I’m not sure I could identify it. I made a pumpkin pie last fall and took to work. We ate almost all of it (maybe one slice was left). I had the aluminum foil covered pie plate in the back seat of my mini-van along with several (and by several, I mean around a gajillion) pieces of paper from two kids at school. Somehow the pie plate got under the papers and forgotten about. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what that foul smell was in the car. Did someone shit back there? Could THAT smell be bear pee? Did someone die back there? Well, I finally took time to clean it out….. imagine my surprise (and not the good kind) when I found the pie. Needless to say, I run a very tight ship now with a different car. Good luck with the smell!!

    August 24, 2012
    • Ha! My friend has a minivan and a bunch of kids and until recently I had no concept of how cavernous those cars are inside. It’s like they go on FOREVER. I can totally see how The Pie Incident happened!

      When I was a kid, my parents used to hide colored hard-boiled eggs around the house at Easter. One year, we found all of them but one. My dad couldn’t remember where he hid the last one. A week later, the foulest stench came out of the living room, and we eventually discovered an egg in the little wire circle at the top of a lamp shade. It was getting HEATED UP by the lamp every time he sat in his favorite chair and read. Uuuuugh!

      August 29, 2012
  16. Amy #

    How does a rocking chair fit in your trunk? Is it like dog-sized or something? This soup sounds so good…Nate’s been begging me to make a potato-based soup, so I think I just got the recipe!

    August 24, 2012
    • Hee hee. Well, it is kind of small, now that you mention it. And Volvo trunks are deep. But for the record, figuring out how to get it in there was like doing one of those visual shape rearranging exercises on an IQ test.

      August 29, 2012
  17. I could eat an onion daily with the quantity I get in my CSA (hmm, that might be useful in driving off either mosquitoes or bears). I like your recipes, and your blog, but I’m REALLY liking Truman’s thinking. An a.m. bourbon; what an excellent idea.

    August 24, 2012
    • I know, right? I wonder what other Presidents engaged in a Mad Men-style workday!

      August 29, 2012
  18. Hilarious as always… and these recipes sound great. Particularly the parfait with its layery goodness! Though I’m so lazy these days, I just might go buy one (and not just the pre made parts to make it)

    August 24, 2012
    • I would trade you for your sauteed peaches on top of some ice cream any day!

      August 29, 2012
  19. musingmar #

    Well, that Harry S sounds like a bit of an odd duck, although when you think of all the zany diets out there these days, maybe not so much. Your soup looks hearty and comforting. Worth cooking up some extra potatoes the night ahead!

    August 25, 2012
    • I know, right? I wouldn’t be too surprised if the Harry S Truman diet came back in full force within the year. . .

      August 29, 2012
  20. Oh, Katherine, you just crack…me…up! “…it smells like a bear broke into the back seat and peed on a box of strawberry fruit roll-ups”. You almost made me spew my morning coffee out my nose with that one…lol, so good! And what the what?! Never knew that about Harry – huh! Reminds me of my awesome old-school grandfather with the morning exercise, minus the bourbon. And potato soup — tastes like Fall to me! Great post and pics as always, Katherine! I so, so, so enjoy them!

    August 25, 2012
    • You know, now I’m day dreaming about strawberry fruit roll-ups. I used to love them so!

      Thanks for the kind words. Just visited your site again and got all hungry over your latest shrimp+coconut milk deal!

      August 29, 2012
  21. Joe G. #

    Kate, read the reviews here on “how to make ice cubes” recipe:

    I think you’ll find them funny.

    August 26, 2012
    • Oh my, that is positively HILARIOUS.

      To anyone else reading this, you should click on Joe’s link. It’s really funny.

      August 29, 2012
    • Diane #

      I loved the replies to “how to make ice cubes”! Anytime I need a laugh, I just have to go to this page.

      September 3, 2012
  22. My goodness your blog makes me hungry!

    August 27, 2012
    • Hee hee. It makes Scott hungry too, because I take pictures after the food is ready and he has to wait forever before he gets to steal a bite of it!

      August 29, 2012
      • LOL you should just take photos of him drooling 😉

        August 29, 2012
  23. Diane #

    So I wonder what would happen if you roasted the potatoes? I know it’s way too hot now to think about cranking up the oven, but come winter, hmmm? Everything is better roasted!

    September 3, 2012

{Leave a Note}

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s