Ever since I worked at Bennigans, I have adored potato soup. I am fairly certain if it weren’t for snitched rolls and ramekins of baked potato soup, I would have wasted away in my late teens. I was sad to see the company recently declare bankruptcy but take heart. The potato soup lives on. This recipe rates just a shade above novice on the difficulty scale. According to my rating system, if you can handle two basic tasks simultaneously and not wander away and get sucked into another activity, you’ve got it in the bag.
Before we get started, let’s talk liquids. Most potato soup recipes call for milk and sour cream, some call for milk and half-and-half, and others call for milk, sour cream, and chicken broth.
Substituting chicken broth (or stock) for some, but not all, never all, of the milk lowers the fat content while providing good flavor. I prefer a small dollop of sour cream as a topping rather than stirring a cup full (in place of the half and half in the version below) at the end of cooking but feel free to experiment.
I don’t care for the tang of a full cup of sour cream. This is a to each their own preference situation.
This recipe is a great use for all those oddly sized potatoes that seem to show up in large bags. I scrub just enough to fill up a small baking tray, prick each with a fork, and bake for one hour at 400F. When they are done, I place them on a baking rack to cool and begin to make the soup.
While the milk is heating, I peel and mash the potatoes by hand. The peels should then slip off quite easily.
Lastly, for those just venturing into the world of cream soups, follow the directions closely the first time, then feel free to experiment. I tend to have a light touch with salt, preferring to allow others to salt to taste at the table.
If you use store-bought broth or stock, be very careful with the amount of salt you add, it’s very easy to over-salt in these cases.
- 2 TBSP butter
- 1 onion finely diced
- 2 celery ribs + leaves chopped (don’t stress if your ribs are naked or omit completely if you hate celery)
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 5 cups milk, heated (feel free to substitute up to half chicken broth / stock)
- approximately 5lbs baked potatoes peeled and mashed (Yukon Gold potatoes work well)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 4 oz cheddar (or ) grated or cut into small cubes (grate additional cheese for garnish)
- 4 – 6 slices bacon cooked and roughly chopped (save a little for garnish)
- 1 cup half and half (or sour cream)
- Heat the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat.
- In another pot or the microwave, begin heating the milk, not to a simmer or boil, just at least above room temperature.
- When it has melted add the onions, stir frequently and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- When the onions are soft add the celery and garlic and sauté for an additional two to three minutes.
- Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and stir well until the roux is smooth. (Yes, you’ll have celery and onion lumps, watch for small clumps of flour and break those up._
- Now comes the slightly tricky part. While stirring constantly, begin slowly adding the milk. At first, you’ll create a thick paste. If you are patient, there should be no lumps. Once the initial lumps are gone, you can add the milk or chicken broth in more generous amounts. Just be sure it is completely incorporated between additions. Once all the milk has been added, bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As soon as the mixture begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low. It is important not to let the mixture come to a boil as the roux will separate.
- This is when I peel and mash the potatoes, which can be a little boring.
- Stir in the mashed potatoes. Add more broth or milk if the soup gets too thick.
- Slowly stir in the cheese, crumbled bacon, salt, and pepper. Allow to heat through, then stir in the half-and-half or sour cream, stir, and serve immediately.
What should the roux and vegetables look like?
Here are some more great potato recipes:
- Hasselback Potatoes
- Simple Scalloped Potatoes From Scratch
- Leek and Potato Soup
- Smoked Sausage Potato Cheese Soup Recipe