I don’t know where you fall in the spectrum of opinions on potato soup. Chances are, you’re skeptical – I know a few folks like that. It’s also a chance that you’re already entirely convinced and as satisfied with it’s goodness as I am. Chances are you also don’t really care. Well, I am of the opinion that you should care, and especially on cold winter days that seem to be all too common currently (58 below zero in Fairbanks this morning! I was proud to experience the coldest temperature of my adult – and possibly my entire – life.).
I also insist that I am not alone in this opinion. Having recently read MFK Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf, she speaks quite highly of her simple potato soup, and laments the fact that too few people have “not yet acquired a healthy relationship with good potato soup.” I agree. And then there is Lindsey Bareham’s In Praise of the Potato, which, yes, is a cookbook exhaustingly all about potatoes. She states how easily a basic potato soup can be made: “Take a potato, a pinch of salt, and a cup of water and you have the basis of a delicious, subtle, nourishing, and inexpensive soup that is quick and easy to make.” Of course, she then provides plenty of variations on that theme.
Potato soup has never needed to earn my approval; it’s always held a place of very fond, warm, and comforting memories. Over the past year of dairy-free cooking with Joe, there have been more than a few times when I silently lamented the fact that potato soup, as I knew it, was inseparable from a bit of milk. Or cream. Or both. Then, a wonderful little book of curry recipes held a recipe for Curried Potato Soup, made with coconut milk. Genius! Of course! I couldn’t wait to try it.
When I mentioned potato soup, though, Joe seemed to fall a bit on the skeptical side of the spectrum. After some good insistence on my part though (“but you LOVE potatoes!”), he decided it didn’t sound all that bad, and sure, let’s try it. So I joyfully set about creating my own potato soup recipe, taken a bit from MFK Fisher, a bit (but very little) from my curry book, and a bit from Lindsey Bareham. And I even more joyfully enjoyed cooking and eating the lovely creation, which is a perfect winter’s meal.
But even with all the wondrous attributes of potato soup, it made up only half of an incredible dinner that evening. Joe had also been busy all day. While I contemplated soup, he mixed and kneaded and shaped and baked (yes, he did more work. and then he chopped that monumental amount of garlic in the earlier picture. yes, he’s great.) two gorgeous, mouth-watering loaves of sourdough onion rye bread. I don’t think life (especially, as I’ve said, on a cold winter’s night) can get much better than a warm piece of that dark, dense bread enjoyed with a steaming bowl of potato soup.
Winter Potato Soup
makes 5-6 servings
5-6 cups of a floury variety of potato, chopped
2 onions, quartered and sliced into thin rings
2 heads of garlic, peeled and finely chopped (yes, you do want this much!)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup flour
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, warmed
2 cups coconut milk (make sure it’s not sweetened!)
salt and pepper
4 tsp crushed dried rosemary
Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onions and cook about 5 minutes, until transparent. Add garlic for about the last two minutes. Slowly add flour to make a roux, and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute longer. Gradually add the warm broth. Add potatoes, bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender. Add coconut milk and seasonings; adjust to taste.