I looove soup. I’m not scared to make a pot of soup in the middle of summer, but this time of year, when humidity is giving way to crispness, it’s even better.
This is my Nana’s potato soup, and it’s hearty and comforting and full of potato flavor (i.e., it’s not a restaurant-style baked potato soup that’s chunks of potatoes in a creamy base…this is potato-y through and through!). I do feel obligated to tell you that my first memory of this soup takes place at the red kitchen table of my childhood. I wasn’t excited about the meal in front of me – what were those flecks of unknown Things? I had been reading a book called Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald (which is still one of my very favorites – saying I’ve read it dozens of times is not an exaggeration), in which cruel boardinghouse mistress Mrs. Monday forces the orphans in her care to eat terrible food, like oatmeal with stewed prunes. So I plowed through my bowl by pretending it was my daily portion of gruel. In the process, I discovered not only that there was nothing objectionable about it, but that it’s like extra good mashed potatoes meets soup, and it’s one of my favorite things!
It starts with onions and celery and carrots, like many good soups do. Let the veggies start cooking while you peel and cut up the potatoes. Then add chicken broth…or water and one of my favorite products, Better than Bouillon! I get it at Costco and in my opinion it’s the secret to great soup. I prefer it to buying chicken broth cartons because it’s much less expensive, creates less waste, allows you to make a small amount if you need, say, 1/2 cup of broth for a recipe…and Cook’s Illustrated recommends it, so you know it’s good!
I feel a little silly doing these disclaimers, but this is just a product I love and not something I’m paid to tell you about!
Add some seasoning and those chunked potatoes and let the soup simmer away! I got this pot started during naptime, so I let it cook on low for the afternoon, but if you’re in a hurry the potatoes and other veggies should be tender in about 20 minutes at a gentle boil. Use a potato masher (or your meat pounder-thing if you’re me) to mash some of the potatoes – leave as many chunks as you like!
A few minutes before serving, add half-and-half. The recipe calls for 2 cups, but I start with less (one or one-and-a-half). That way, I can taste and make sure I don’t dilute the flavor too much – plus, I like it to be thick! I often add more to thin it back out when I heat up leftovers the next day.
Cheese, bacon, and green onions are (kind of) optional toppings!Print
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 4 carrots, scrubbed or peeled and chopped
- 8 medium potatoes, diced (about 3 pounds)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- pepper and season salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 4 cups chicken broth (or 4 cups water + 4 teaspoons Better than Bouillon soup base)
- 1-2 cups half-and-half
- shredded sharp cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, and sliced green onions for topping (optional)
- Heat a large pot over medium-low to medium heat and add butter. Chop onion while it melts. Add onion to pot and stir, then chop celery. Add the celery to the butter and onion and let cook while you peel and cut up carrots. (You want to “sweat” the veggies, not brown them, so stir occasionally and turn the heat down if necessary.) Add carrots, and peel and cut potatoes. Add potatoes, broth, and seasonings and bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until potatoes are well done (about 20 minutes).
- Use a potato masher a few times to mash the potatoes and carrots, leaving some potatoes in chunks. Add 1 to 2 cups half-and-half (see note) and stir until soup thickens a little and is hot (do not boil at this point).
- Top with cheese, bacon, and green onions!
I like to add 1 cup of half-and-half to start, and then taste the soup. You can always add more to get the taste and consistency you want! I sometimes add more to leftovers, as the soup thickens over time.
Note: This recipe was originally published here on October 14, 2014. It’s one of our favorites, so I took some new pictures for it and bumped it back up here to the front of the line! :o)