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. Which, 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, other 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.
This is a great use for all those odd size potatoes that seem to show up in the 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 on a baking rack to cool and begin making the soup. While the milk is heating I peel and mash the potatoes by hand. The peels should 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 othes to salt to taste at the table. Be careful with the amount of salt if you choose to substitute chicken broth for some of the milk as sodium levels naturally run high in most commercially prepared broths and boullions.
- 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
- 1/2 cup flour
- 5 cups milk (feel free to substitute up to half chicken broth)
- approximately 7lbs baked potatoes peeled and mashed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 4 oz cheddar (or monterey jack) grated or cut into small cubes (grate additional cheese for garnish)
- 4 – 6 slices bacon 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. 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 saute for an additional two to three minutes.
Sprinkle in approximately half of the flour and stir well with a whisk.
Now comes the slighty tricky part. While whisking constantly, begin alternating between a splash of milk and sprinkle of flour. You’ll create a thick paste known as a roux. If you are patient there should be no lumps. Once the flour has all been added you can begin adding the milk or chicken broth in more generous splashes. Once all the milk has been incorporated (mixed in well) bring to a simmer stirring occasionally.
This is when I peel and mash the potatoes, as it can be a little boring.
Once the soup is simmering, reduce the heat to low and stir in the potatoes, cheese, crumbled bacon, salt, and pepper. Allow to heat through, then stir in the half and half or sour cream, stir, and serve immediately.