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There are those who say that you cannot make mistakes with potatoes.

When I was a kid, I really used to believe that adults didn’t mess things up. Part of the great disillusionment of my own young adulthood was realizing that I wouldn’t automatically become mistake-free as a grown-up (no matter how often my mother told me When you’re eighteen, you can do what you want!). Sigh. Great disillusionment, when all I want to give you is a tale of accidental soup today.

The other day, I made a bowl of mashed potatoes for a side. It’s been many months since the last mashed potatoes here; I don’t have spuds in the house often. But when I came home from Tammy’s with that bushel of harvest vegetables, I started thinking about mashing up a few with cheese and garlic. They were pretty good, but not worthy of a recipe, really—just your standard issue mashed potatoes with milk and a little butter, pepper, a bit of shredded Gruyère and one chopped clove of garlic tossed in at the end. I didn’t make much, and we didn’t finish them that night; a little more than half a cup went into the fridge as leftovers.

Sweet breakfast foods are not my favorite things for a day-to-day breakfast, and eggs don’t agree with me. I’d much rather have something savory first thing in the morning. So when I remembered those potatoes the next morning, I dumped them into a little pan with a little milk, just a few minutes after crawling out of bed.

Oh, wait. Did I say a little milk? I meant way too much milk. You wouldn’t think a simple reheating would take more than my usual wake-up-quotient of brain power, but apparently it does. I whined for a minute, then threw in a cup of water and a half-cube of chicken stock concentrate (I make this myself; I’ll tell you about it sometime). Bam. Soup. It could have used a tango with the immersion blender, but for an early-morning accident, we’ll go with rustic over extra dishwashing every time. I ground a bunch of black pepper on top and sprinkled the surface with pimenton and some dried chives. The garlic had developed overnight without getting overly pungent, and the traces of cheese added a sturdy richness. 

I was never a big fan of potato soup—it’s usually so heavy and dairy-laden. This was much more to my taste, lighter and simple, with a real peppery kick. I woke up enough to debate photographing the bowl, only to find a depleted battery in the new camera and then have to hunt down the old one, still only half-awake. For ten minutes, I spooned it out a bit at a time, indecently proud of myself. And then I got on with the day, which is all breakfast asks of you, anyway.