I hate when I have to scroll down through a blogger’s adorable, rambling story about last weekend in [somewhere REALLY cold] with their kids and [pet’s name], sledding and ice fishing and cavorting with polar bears, just to get to their recipe for hearty, easy potato soup—obviously, the ideal meal after a day spent building igloos with penguins. Let’s skip the cute backstory and cut immediately to my potato soup recipe—best served on dark, chilly evenings when all you want to do is snuggle under a blanket and pretend you’ve never heard of low-carb diets. It’s lacto-vegetarian and gluten-free, and uses ingredients you probably already have, assuming you cook with fresh vegetables on a regular basis (if you don’t, it’s never too late to start!). I don’t puree anything, either, because I like the varied, chunky, melt-in-my-mouth texture of this potato soup…and I detest taking apart and cleaning my blender.
Zachary’s Favorite Potato Soup
(named after my son, who requests this soup year-round)
Serves at least 4
Total prep and cook time: About 45 minutes (I’m the reigning World Champion Slowest Vegetable Peeler and Chopper on Planet Earth, so I need more like an hour from start to finish.)
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
½ of one onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ stalks celery, sliced or diced (I include the celery leaves, too, if they look fresh)
2 small or medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced
6 medium-sized russet potatoes (about 2 ½ lbs.), peeled and cut into big-bite-size chunks (I cut each potato into four equal parts, then into pieces approximately 1.5-2 inches wide)
4 cups water
1-2 cups milk (or half-and-half for a richer, creamier flavor)
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 green onions/scallions, sliced (optional)
A big pinch of dried parsley flakes
- Wash, peel, and/or chop/slice all the veggies while listening to your favorite cold-and-dreary-day songs. (No one will know whether it’s the onions or Adele making you cry.)
- Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, minced garlic, and sliced celery; sauté until onions are translucent.
- Add sliced carrots and potato pieces; stir.
- Add 4 cups of water. (This should be just enough liquid to almost completely cover the potato/veggie mixture. Add more water if you prefer a thinner, brothier soup.) Crank the heat up to high and bring the mixture to a boil.
- After it starts boiling, reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the carrots and potatoes are as soft as you prefer. (You don’t want the potatoes to get so soft that they start disintegrating, but you also don’t want them to be undercooked. Poke a big piece with a fork or take a bite to test for doneness. Careful! Don’t burn your tongue! Jeez. Cooking the perfect pot of soup is stressful. Look at those lazy potatoes relaxing in their bubbling jacuzzi bath, while your kids are fighting in the living room and your dog is peeing on your shoes. There’s a good chance that one of your kids won’t even like this soup. Ew! Celery! But you’re making it anyway, because you have a craving for hot, delicious, creamy, comforting potato soup, and sometimes Mommy deserves to eat the food she wants.)
- Once your potatoes have passed the “done” test, add the salt, pepper, milk (or half-and-half), green onions, and parsley. Whether you add 1 or 2 cups of milk is entirely up to you, again depending on your preferred potato-to-broth ratio. (I prefer a chunk of potato in at least every other bite of soup, and my husband doesn’t tolerate too much dairy, so we’re usually content with 1 cup of 1% milk in this soup. Half-and-half is a nice treat, and makes this soup creamier and prettier, if your stomach can handle it.)
- Stir. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Let it simmer for a tad longer, only if it isn’t hot enough for you after adding the milk. (It’s always hot enough for me. Just like Sam Heughan is always hot enough. In fact, I could probably cook a pot of this potato soup just by setting it right in front of my TV screen while watching Outlander. Good grief, my yoga pants practically catch fire whenever the dashing, kilt-wearing Sam/”Jamie Fraser” says “Broch Tuarach” and “Lallybroch” in that delicious, melodic, rolling Scottish accent of his. Be still my heart!)
- Turn off the burner. Serve soup immediately, or let it cool briefly while you’re eating a crisp green salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. Enjoy!
Optional additions: I swear to you, this potato soup is delicious even without any added bacon or cheese! (But if you do add bacon or cheese, please leave a comment below to let us know how it turns out.) Freshly-ground sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and chopped fresh parsley are great, if you have them.
I have made this soup with yukon gold potatoes and skin-on baby red potatoes, and it tastes fine, but I personally prefer the texture of peeled, boiled russet potatoes that are just starting to melt around the edges. If you like firmer, denser potatoes, baby reds are an attractive option. They look lovely simmering in the pot with the celery and carrots.
I’ve tried using vegetable broth instead of water, thinking that it might enhance the flavor—nope, not really. Water is just fine.
I have also made the mistake in the past of trying to add more celery and carrots to this soup, thinking that my potato pieces needed more green and orange friends. Go ahead and put more raw, crunchy, green and orange friends in your salad, but leave them out of this soup, okay?! The soft, starchy, soothing potatoes are the star here, and everything else is just the colorful supporting cast.
Serving suggestions: If you need even more carbs than the zillions you’re already getting in Zachary’s Favorite Potato Soup, of course you can serve it with a warm, toasted sandwich, and soak up any milky broth left in your bowl with your favorite bread or rolls. (My husband thinks I’m a weirdo for not eating this soup with bread.)
If any of you use vegan substitutions here with good results, please leave a comment below to tell us what you did! Thank you!
Here is Zachary’s Favorite Potato Soup recipe in picture form: