What was the first recipe you ever committed to memory?For me, it was this Potato Soup—my mom’s. It was our traditional pre-church Christmas Eve dinner for our entire childhood. Every year, Mom would make a double batch and serve it with a spinach salad and warm rolls. It was a tradition we all loved and something we remember fondly.
As we got older and were more able to help in the kitchen, it fell to my little sister and me to make the soup (and the Christmas morning breakfast casserole) while Mom worked on other holiday-related tasks. It was fun to help out, and Mom’s Potato Soup is so simple that it wasn’t long before I ceased needing to peek at the recipe card and started making it from memory.Since then, I’ve made Potato Soup for friends, boyfriends, student film shoots, and even once for 125 Hurricane Katrina relief volunteers. My sister doesn’t even particularly like white potatoes,* but she had no problem putting away this soup on Monday night. Everybody—and I mean everybody—loves this soup.
*She also doesn’t like cinnamon rolls and stuffing. Freaking weirdo.It’s easy to see why. My mom’s recipe is simple and straightforward. There are only seven ingredients (plus salt and pepper), so the flavors of buttery potato, onion, and garlic really shine through. Half-and-half is swapped for the usual heavy cream, so this soup won’t weigh you down either.All that rich, creamy deliciousness is accented with a sprinkle of celery seed……and melty cheddar, crispy bacon, and fresh scallions.It doesn’t get simpler or more delicious than that.
makes 3-4 servings
2 pounds red potatoes (about 7-8 potatoes)
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large white or Spanish onion, diced small
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
shredded cheddar cheese
crispy bacon, crumbled or chopped
This recipe makes enough for 3-4 people. If you have very hungry people and/or want seconds, double the batch.
Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch chunks (mine were quartered). Place them in a large (6+ quart) heavy-bottomed pot and add stock. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove lid and reduce heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Cook diced onion until translucent (but not brown), about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Set aside.
Set a large strainer over a large heatproof bowl. Pour potatoes & stock through the strainer, reserving stock.
Place potatoes back in the pot. Add onion mixture. Use a potato masher to mash potatoes until no large chunks remain. Stir in reserved stock (about 4 cups). Cover pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot frequently to prevent burning, until thickened a reduced slightly (about 20-30 minutes).
Remove soup from heat. Stir in celery seed and half-and-half, followed by salt and pepper.
Place soup over medium-low heat (do not boil) for 5-7 minutes, just to bring it back to temperature.
Serve soup with cheddar, bacon, and/or scallions, if desired. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.