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Creamy Potato Soup

11 November 2011

Several years ago, I watched my mom cook this creamy potato soup. She’d been making it for years – and her mom before her – but no one had written down the recipe. So, for posterity’s sake, I jotted it down on a piece of paper as I observed her. It’s a little tricky in parts (your arm may feel like it’s going to fall off in the white sauce stage) but it’s well worth it.

INGREDIENTS

4-6 stalks celery (and leaf), chopped

6-8 medium potatoes, cut into chunks

1 large onion, chopped + ½ onion, chopped (reserved for thickener)

4 large carrots, chopped

2 TBS butter

4 TBS flour

1 cup cold milk

Seasoning salt

Herbs (like herbes de provence or whatever you prefer)

2 small chicken bouillon cubes

Salt, pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

1. Bring half a pot of water to a boil. Add chopped celery, potatoes, onion and carrots. Stir, season with salt, cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and you can easily stick a knife through the carrots and potatoes. Try not to overcook the veggies or potatoes will dissolve.

Thickener/White Sauce

2. While vegetables are simmering, make the thickener in a large skillet or saucepan. This part can be a little tricky until you get the hang of it (I was scared of it for years) but it’s also surprisingly forgiving. See Nat’s Notes for an easier alternative to this step if you’re limited on time.

3. Melt butter over low heat. Once butter has melted completely, add reserved onions until cooked through and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t brown. Sprinkle flour over onions and mix with wire whisk until it’s a thick paste, then quickly add milk while stirring. Continue to stir continually while the mixture comes to a boil over low heat. Then take two big spoonfuls of broth from the vegetable pot and stir them into the white sauce. Keep stirring until the broth incorporates and the sauce starts to reduce and thicken.

4. Add two more big spoonfuls of broth and repeat step of stirring until incorporated. Add seasoning salt, pepper, herbs and bouillon to white sauce. Continue incorporating spoonfuls of broth until the vegetables in the first pot are barely still covered.

Final Steps

5. Increase heat under the vegetable pot to medium. Pour the white sauce into the vegetable pot and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Bring to a soft boil while stirring occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom and burns.  Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat.

NAT’S NOTES

  • Make the chunks of potato big enough so that they don’t dissolve into the soup. I’ve made that mistake before and people are like, “Yum, tastes good … Where are the potatoes?”
  • Sauce will thicken naturally following the steps above, esp. overnight, but if you’re looking for a quick fix, skip the white sauce part and mix in potato flakes from a box (like Idaho Spuds) to desired thickness.
  • Add ham chunks as a little variation.

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