Everyday potato soup


  • 8 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 quarts water or stock of choice
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil of choice
  • 4 teaspoons chopped parsley (or chervil)


  1. Put the potatoes into a soup pot. Add the water and onions and cook over low-medium heat, covered, for about 45 minutes.
  2. With a hand masher, mash the potatoes in the soup pot. Add the milk, salt, and pepper, and mix the soup, then reheat.
  3. Just before serving, add the butter and parsley. Stir and mix well. Serve hot during the cold weather and cold during the warm weather. (When soup is served cold, oil must be used instead of butter.)

This simple little recipe for potato soup has become one of our favorites. I chose it for lunch a few weeks ago because it looked nice and cheap—a few potatoes, an onion, a cup of milk, and you’re off. It doesn’t seem promising at first glance but once everything has cooked together, it somehow becomes a beautiful soup. You can adjust the amount of each ingredient depending on the state of your pantry and the calendar distance to your next payday: the first time I made it, I got by just fine with four potatoes and one red onion.

It’s taken from Br Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette’s Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, which I think was a gift from one of us to the other.


Discussing the Iliad

I spent my reading time today catching up with the kids on their Iliad reading.  We’re horribly behind, and it’s partly my fault for not cracking the whip and making them do assignments earlier.  So we looked at Book I in depth, divided its plot into 5 sections, and chose two main characters, Akhilleus and Agamemnon, to examine closely.  We must complete Book III tomorrow.

The Chesapeake’s guns

From Dickens’  magazine “All the Year Round”, number 139, December 21, 1861:

The names of the Chesapeake’s guns, too, are curious. On the main-deck were Brother Jonathan, True Blue, Yankee Protection, Putnam, Raging Eagle, Viper, General Warren, Mad Anthony, America, Washington, Liberty for Ever, Dreadnought, Defiance, Liberty or Death; on the forecastle were the United Tars, Jumping Billy, Battler; on the quarter-deck Bulldog, Spitfire, Nancy Dawson, Redcap, Bunker’s Hill, Pocohontas, Towser, and Wilful Murder, each name engraved on a square plate of copper, and fastened on the gun-carriages. It would have been well for the Chesapeake if her guns had answered better to their names, and carried their metal a little more steadily and truly.

Sir Walter Scott named the guns on one side of the ship in his Edinburgh Annual Register for 1813, and filed the list under “Yankee Wit”.

In other reading, Hepzibah Pyncheon has opened her cent shop.  What’s amazing is that she just up and opened it—no government permits or licenses, no health department inspections, no registering as a business with the Feds so they can steal her money for her own good.  What a strange country she lived in.

The wellsprings of mourning in the modern age

Here’s a collection of essays gathered around the new September 11 memorial in NYC:

In other reading, I’m in Book XVI of the Iliad and I’ve started The House of the Seven Gables (which it’s a museum now, of course).  I can tell already that I need to read more Hawthorne.  How did I get through high school without reading him?  Maybe I just faked it with Cliff’s Notes, I don’t remember.

The rhythm of reading

I guess my reading has a rhythm: I glut on everything I can find for a week or so, then retreat into just one or two books.  Today’s reading:

  • Gardening with Herbs for Flavor and Fragrance by Helen Morgenthau Fox, the Dover reprint of the 1933 edition.  She’s one of the most delightful writers I’ve ever read, and she’s given me Ideas for plantings along the south side of the house: roses climbing the side of the porch with herbs below and, underneath, violets as a sort of living mulch.
  • I’m slogging through Book XV of the Iliad, with the gods bickering among themselves as usual.  Apollo has descended to help Hektor in the battle, so things may pick up a bit.
  • Last night before bed I began Ratzinger’s second homily on Genesis.  Nothing to report there yet; with Ratzinger I like to read, mark and inwardly digest first.

The eight evil thoughts of Evagrius Ponticus

Here’s a magnificent summary of Evagrius Ponticus’ eight evil thoughts: “The order below follows the order of the Eight Thoughts, and are as follows: gluttony, fornication, avarice, anger, sadness, akedia, vainglory, and pride. For each thought, there will be a description of what the thought is, what part of the soul it affects, how it relates to the other thoughts, and specific virtues to combat the thought.”

His entire series on Evagrius begins with this post.  My introduction to Evagrius was Earthen Vessels: The Practice of Personal Prayer According to the Partristic Tradition by Gabriel Bunge, OSB.