Homely Potato Soup

No, that’s not a ‘title typo’, while this potato soup is ‘homey’ it is also a great way to use up those random ‘homely’ potatoes we end up with while digging spuds. (Which leads me to wonder, is ‘homely’ even an acceptable term anymore?)

Setting that rumination aside, the potatoes I’m referring to are those that may have been impaled by a digging fork, or sliced by a shovel; they may have gnarly, scabby skins (a problem in 2018, when the critical early tuber set period was marked by a drought); they may be afflicted with black scurf (a fungal growth characterized by tarry-looking black deposits on the potato’s skin, which was a problem in 2017 when the critical early tuber set period was marked by very heavy rains and waterlogged soils); they may be cracked or blotchy or simply misshapen. All of these maladies are basically cosmetic and there is still plenty of deliciousness to be harvested from homely potatoes.

There is nothing more welcome than a hot bowl of potato soup on a chilly day, and making it is so very simple. Of course you can use ‘aesthetically pleasing’ potatoes, but if you have homely ones in need of a destiny this is the perfect way to use them up. You will need: olive oil or bacon slices (depending on your orientation and taste), onions and garlic, potatoes, and water or stock. Optional but not vital additions are herbal seasonings and a dash of wine vinegar. Toppings can include but are not limited to grated cheese, chopped green onions or chives, bacon bits, sour cream and croutons.

This recipe does not use measurements. Decide how many potatoes you want to cook up and how big a pot you want to use — this will determine relative amounts of ingredients. Chop up some onions and mince some garlic while heating up some olive oil or sautéing some chopped bacon in a heavy pan. When the oil is hot or the bacon is rendered and crisping, add the onions and garlic. Stir a few times and turn heat down to medium low and let everything simmer for a bit. This is when you can add whatever herbs you like (I use an Italian Herb mix) and a splash or two of wine vinegar for tang.

While that simmers, prepare your potatoes. Trim them, peel them, whatever it takes to get them cleaned up. Be sure to remove any green sections completely, and discard any potatoes which have rot or are green all the way through:

Cut the trimmed spuds into chunks and rinse them before adding to pot. Add water or broth but not too much! You want just enough to cover the spuds as they will release water during cooking. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer until spuds are soft.

This should take about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and use an old-fashioned, hand powered  potato masher to smash the chunks into smaller chunks. Add a bit more liquid if too thick.

That’s it! Ladle into bowls and top with whatever you have on hand that sounds good.

Because this soup does not have milk in it, it will NOT CURDLE and it will keep well in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. It’s a great soup to have on hand for a quick pick-me-up.

And a good way to appreciate those imperfect potatoes.

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