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(Plain Old Potato Soup)

A lovely and substantial soup--quickly made and wonderfully sustaining on cold days when you don't want anything fancy, just the comfort of comfort foods. Many thanks to Ken of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the contribution. This shows his kind and gentle side: don't get him started on chili and barbeque. Serve hot to 6 people for a solid meal, accompanied with a big salad and lots of crusty bread.

Garnish: minced parsley or chives

Melt the butter in a soup pot and sauté the onion, celery, and carrot in it over medium heat until they soften (3-4 minutes). Toss in the potatoes, then pour in the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cook until tender, partially covered--about 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and coarsely mash the potatoes, leaving some of the larger chunks for texture. Return the pot to a low heat and stir in the milk until it's just the consistency you want. Stir in the cayenne, bring to a boil, then adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls and garnish each with the minced parsley or chives.