Warm up to these comfort foods

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When the weather turns cold and nasty, I need comfort food, something warm and hearty. (For me, this means potatoes.)  The first thing I ever made all by myself was potato soup. As I remember, it was on a very cold and snowy day, one of the rare “snow days” we got back in Illinois. My mom was busy, and I told her I was going to fix dinner. She said okay, but I’m sure she was thinking we would probably have peanut butter sandwiches.
I just cut up some potatoes, put them in a little water, and boiled them till they were soft. I mashed them just a little in the saucepan, added salt and pepper, milk, and some butter. I remember my dad really liked it. I overheard my mom talking on the phone to my grandma Ruth that night. She said, “Well, of course it was good; she put about a pound of butter in it.”
I don’t use that recipe now. I use less butter, and more vegetables, and it really hits the spot in cold weather. I’ll also include a really good Cheesy Potato Casserole you might want to try, if you love potatoes like I do.
Snow Day Potato Soup
4 T. butter
2 medium onions, diced
1 large stalk celery, with some leaves, diced
1 large carrot, grated or minced small
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
Dash (or two) cayenne pepper
6 potatoes, chopped
2 c. chicken broth (or water)
1 1/2 c. half and half (or milk)
In butter, sauté onions, celery, and carrot over low heat about 15 minutes, till vegetables are tender.  Add salt, peppers, potatoes, and broth or water. Cover and simmer till potatoes are very tender.  Uncover, add half and half, and simmer 10-15 minutes. Taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper.
Serves four to six.
Cheesy Potato Casserole
8 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
16 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 stick butter, melted
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 T. dried minced onions
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4” cubes
In a bowl, combine sour cream, mushroom soup, and melted butter. Whisk till well-blended. Add salt and pepper. Mix in dried onions and cheese. After the mixture is well-blended, mix in potatoes and bacon. Spoon mixture into 9x13 greased pan. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour, or till potatoes are bubbling in the center and brown on top. Serves 10.