From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The lowly potato has been a staple in peasant kitchens for centuries, and potato soup, in one form or another, has been served as a main course or meal extender at peasant tables around the world. With that thought in mind, I'd like to welcome you to my peasant kitchen, where anything that does not bite back is fair game. I thought that this 5 ingredient version of potato soup would be a perfect feature to share with you today. This recipe first appeared in Food and Wine magazine, and while I use leeks and chicken stock when I make a pot for my crew, the recipe below is the one that originally appeared in the magazine. It calls for baking potatoes because the starch they contain helps thicken the soup. Half the potatoes are mashed or pureed to accomplish that, while the rest are left in their original state to give the soup some substance. Do not make the mistake of pureeing the entire contents of the pot. In my mind, potato soup is meant to be grainy rather than smooth. When it is completely pureed I think it becomes pasty and unpleasant, so I actually use a food mill to get the texture I want. That is a nice, but completely unnecessary step, and if you are rushed and just want to get dinner on the table, use your potato masher or immersion blender and get on with it. I have one caution to share with the newer cooks who find their way here. Do not allow the soup to boil once you have added the cheese. It will curdle, and while that will not affect the taste of the soup, it will ruin its appearance. You can have this soup on the table in well under an hour and it is important to note that the recipe is as easy on the cook as it is on the pocketbook. I really think you'll enjoy this easy version of potato soup. Here is how it is made.
Potato and Cheese Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Food and Wine magazine
1/4 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 pounds baking potatoes (about 6), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4-1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces cheddar, grated (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped chives or scallion tops
1) In a large saucepan, cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or, if you don't have 2 tablespoons, add enough cooking oil to equal that amount. Reduce heat to moderately low.
2) Add yellow onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in potatoes, water, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
3) Remove half the soup from pan and puree in a food processor. Alternatively, mash half the potatoes with a potato masher. 4) Return puree to pan. Over low heat, add cheese and stir until melted. Remove pan from the heat. Taste soup and add more salt if needed. Serve soup topped with the bacon and chives. Yield: 4 generous servings.
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