Some days just feel like soup days. Especially stormy, January evenings, when lights go on and shades go down earlier than usual, and you can hear the rainwater spraying under tires as cars drive past. It gives me a hankering to gather around a cozy table, pass out bowls of steaming, thick soup and slices of crusty bread, and settle in for an evening at home.
We’ve had a lot of those days lately, which has been pleasant. Little bursts of sun have broken through the clouds now and then, but mostly it has been gray, soup weather. Here’s a typical sight at this time of year on one of my favorite runing routes. I love how the trees are coated in green moss.
The other day, I had only a few minutes to spend on dinner. The pile of potatoes in the basement—harvested from the garden last summer—is ever present in my mind, and I was hoping to make a little dent in the supply that evening. I’d hate to let them go bad, so potato soup seemed a good option. I’ve always loved creamy potato soups, but usually they’re pretty butter and cream reliant. I threw this little number together in the hopes of creating a healthier version, and everyone loved it. It’s savory and thick with a creamy base and chunks of tender vegetables. The taste is mild, slightly sweet from the squash, and the thyme and sage give it a warm winter feel. It comes together in a matter of minutes, and the ingredients are all humble items, so it’s cheap, easy, and, hopefully, consists of things you’re likely to have on hand.
I served it with homemade croutons and Wasa bread, but it would be great with any kind of crunchy, multigrain cracker. (I actually put a tin of sardines on the table to go with the crackers, which was fun and delicious. I know a lot of people are a bit squeamish about those little guys, but if you like them, now is a good chance to break them out.) The soup heats up fabulously, so a few days later, we had leftovers with this Artisan Bread, which is also a quick fix, although you’ll have to spend a few minutes here and there throughout the day (or make it the day before, which would work fine). Pair it with a green salad, and you’ll have a complete meal on your hands.
Speed it Up: No need, but you can certainly make it ahead of time or double it and freeze some for a future busy day. Also, you can omit the squash and still have a great soup.
Special Diets & Allergies: Dairy free, soy free, vegan, vegetarian, nut free, gluten free. Did I get it all?
Any suggestions for other potato recipes? We’ve had soups, mashed, roasted, baked. The trouble with potatoes, is it seems hard to me to make them into main dishes. Most of my encounters consist of high-dairy side dishes. I’m planning on making this Potato Tomato Curry tomorrow, and then I’m out of ideas.
Easy, Creamy Potato Soup
Serves 4 – 6
This luscious soup is so creamy and thick, you’ll never miss the dairy. You can play around a lot with ingredients, depending on what you have on hand. Some grated carrot might be nice, or a parsnip or two. The squash is not essential, but if you have any around, it adds a nice orange hue and a more complex, slightly sweet flavor. Kabocha is delightful, but you could also use butternut or acorn. Simply scoop some of the flesh out of a pre-cooked squash and follow the directions below. (To cook the squash, cut it into quarters or halves, brush with a little olive oil, and roast in a glass pan on 375 F until soft when pierced with a fork). This is lovely served with a green salad, homemade croutons (see the recipe below), crunchy crackers, or a rustic, whole grain bread.
2 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
6 small red potatoes, peeled and chopped in small chunks (about 3 C)
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried sage
3 C vegetable broth
1 C green cabbage, chopped
1/2 t salt
1/2 C pre-cooked winter squash
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sautee for about 5 minutes, until tender.
- Add the thyme and sage and sautee for another minute, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
- Add the potatoes and broth, stir, raise heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for 5 minutes.
- Add the cabbage and salt, stire, cover the pot, and continue to simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
- Working in batches if necessary, puree about 2/3 of the vegetables in the soup with some of the broth and the squash in a food processor or blender. Return to pot. Season with pepper and serve hot. Pass the croutons at the table.
A large variety of bread works here, as long as it’s good quality. I like to use a crusty artisan loaf or homemade whole wheat sandwich bread, but you can use whatever odds and ends of stale bread you have in the house. These are great on top of salads, too, or just eaten plain.
2 1/2 C whole wheat bread, cubed in 1″ chunks
1 – 2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Place the bread chunks in a plastic ziplock or bread bag. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Shake the bag until the bread is evenly coated with oil and salt.
- Spread in a single layer on a small cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, flip the cubes with a spatula, then bake another 5 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let cool before serving with the soup.