Vince does the majority of our grocery shopping. He uses a shopping app on his phone to make sure our pantry is always stocked with our staple items. So when he bought two 10-lb bags of potatoes during separate shopping trips this week, and a small bag of new potatoes, I knew potato soup would be on the menu this weekend.
There aren’t many photos of my Grandmother Gentry in her kitchen. She’d probably say there was a reason for that. Cooking wasn’t something she enjoyed. It was just she did three times a day. She never measured. Never followed a recipe. Whenever she burned something, she’d always tell us it was just a little brown. Eat it anyway, and we did.
My Grandmother Gentry loved potato soup. It was her go-to cure-all if anyone was sick. It was an easy meal on a cold and windy day. And it was a good way to use potatoes unsuited for mashing. Her soup was basically boiled potatoes and butter, with a thin watery base and a few floury lumps from her attempts to thicken it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her potato soup. Loved. It. But let’s face it, it was hardly special and it’s long past time her recipe got an upgrade.
If you know me, then you know my most prized possession is a 9-qt Marseille Blue LeCreuset dutch oven. Purchased as the ultimate splurge, my heart sings every time I touch it because I know no matter what I’m cooking, the results will be perfect.
After lunch, with a couple loads of laundry and a few obligatory house chores completed, I headed to the kitchen to get a jump on dinner. With 23 pounds of potatoes staring at me, I decided to play around with the potato soup recipe. It had to be gluten-free. It had to be wholesome with a density to satiate picky taste buds.
For inspiration, I looked at a few cookbooks and I searched the internet for ideas. As usual, I didn’t find anything that fit my needs. I landed on the Pioneer Woman’s recipe, mostly because I liked her step-by-step photos. It must be noted that my potato soup recipe is far different from hers. But I’m happy to acknowledge that she got me started.
I wanted my soup to get us through dinner and provide plenty of leftovers, so I washed and chopped a double recipe: 12 potatoes, 6 carrots, 2 yellow onions, and 1 head of garlic. Note: I did not peel the potatoes.
Like the Pioneer Woman’s recipe, most of the recipes I read suggested frying bacon first, then frying the veggies in the grease rendering. Since bacon isn’t one of our staples, I couldn’t do that. But my sweet and southern born husband keeps drippins in the fridge. Problem solved. As I dipped the spoon into the rendered fat, I couldn’t wait to see his reaction when I sweetly whisper in his ear that I had used drippins in the soup base. In my mind, it would be the middle-age equivalent of a come-on.
Once the drippins melted, I tossed the yellow onions, carrots, and garlic (because I don’t do anything without a head of garlic) into the grease and let them sauté. When tender, I tossed in the potatoes and let them sauté for 5-7 minutes more before adding 8 cups of water, lots of sea salt, and cracked black pepper.
All the fancy cookbooks that I own and all the fancy potato soup recipes I found on the internet suggested adding chicken stock to the tender vegetables. I don’t know about you, but why on earth would they add chicken stock to potato soup? It’s ridiculous. I don’t want my homemade potato soup to taste like chicken soup. I want it to taste like potatoes — therefore I used water. Besides, using water means my recipe has less calories, less sodium, and less fat.
With the beauty of time on my hands, I turned down the heat and let the soup simmer.
Twenty minutes later, I went to stir the pot. I realized that it needed more vegetables. Now, I could have added more potatoes, carrots, and onions. But I decided to add flavor instead, so I added a can of northern beans. (Someday there will be a post about my love of white beans, but not today.) Trust me on this, that can of beans just ramped up my potato soup as much as the freshly chopped chives and crumbled sausage did when I added them at the end. And on a whim, I added a bag of frozen broccoli and four mushrooms from the fridge that needed to be used.
Then, I turned up the heat for 20 minutes to bring everything back to a soft boil. Once that was achieved, I turned it back down to a simmer, placed the lid on it, and for the next three hours my dutch oven worked its magic.
When dinnertime came and Vince began making cornbread, I taste tested the soup. It was a thick golden broth that matched the color of the potatoes. Far from the thin watery base my grandmother made, this had body from the potato peels, onion, garlic, northern beans, and broccoli that had cooked down to become an earthy gluten-free broth, that was neither thin or lumpy. I added more salt and pepper to taste, then I added four tablespoons of butter. Finally, I stirred in eight ounces of sour cream and fresh chives, then placed the cover back on the pot, and turned off the stove.
As Vince pulled the cornbread out of the oven, I began ladling up the soup. The compliments began before they ever took their first taste.
“There have been amazing wafts from this soup reaching my room, all afternoon!”
“This is exactly what I’ve been wanting!”
We had planned an evening of binge watching the final episodes of Daredevil Season 3 on Netflix. So we settled in and as the action warmed up on the show, I watched my family warm up with bowls of homemade soup. My grandmother probably wouldn’t have been a Daredevil fan, but I’m sure she would have loved my redux of her potato soup.
I simmered the soup all for hours. So the potato peels, onions, garlic, northern beans, and broccoli cooked down to become an earthy gluten-free broth that was both satisfying and packed with nutrients.
Gluten-Free Potato Soup (double batch)
12 potatoes, chopped and unpeeled
6 carrots, chopped and unpeeled
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 head of garlic, cloves divided
10 cups of water
1 can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 bag of chopped broccoli pieces
8 ounces of sour cream
4 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup fresh chives
Over medium heat, spoon 4 T of bacon drippings into a dutch oven. When melted, add carrots, onions, and garlic. Brown until onions are near translucence. Add potatoes and continue to brown the vegetables for 5 minutes. Add 10 cups of water, salt and pepper. Bring to a soft boil. Add a can of Great Northern Beans and one bag of frozen chopped broccoli pieces. Bring back to a soft boil. Then reduce temperature to a simmer. (On my gas stove, I turned to 1.5). Simmer for up to three hours.
Twenty minutes before eating, add 4 tablespoons of butter and 8 ounces of sour cream. Then add more salt and pepper to taste and as many fresh chives as desired. Cover and turn off heat. Eat with homemade cornbread.