Monday, November 5, 2012

Good Old Fashioned Potato Cheese Soup for an Autumn Evening

Hey all,

This is your favorite Mid-Westerner relishing these warm sunny days and cool nights. The weather the last week or so has been the best of the best.

I have to share a picture from our trip up into the Hills Sunday afternoon. That foggy-looking stuff in the air? That's snow! There's nothing like snow in the air and the sound of wind in the pines to make my day perfect :)

Although you ladies from the south may think temps in the 50's during the day and in the 20's at night a bit extreme, it's perfect weather for homemade potato soup and bread.

Here's the great thing about soup: you can use whatever you have on hand! Go back to Missy's post on Friday. See what I'm talking about? Start with a basic idea and add and subtract from there to make your favorite soup.

Last week, I made Potato Cheese Soup for my family. Super easy, in the crock pot so I can put it together in the morning and not think about it until supper time, and tasty.

It's comfort food to the max. Especially if you add in homemade bread!

So, here's the basic recipe:

Homemade Old Fashioned Potato Cheese Soup...your way

Start with basic ingredients.

It's Potato Soup, so start with potatoes.

I always throw in an onion for flavor.

Peel and dice all those potatoes and onions...

How many, you ask? Well, I cook for six, so I used eight potatoes and a half of an onion. Adjust accordingly for your tribe :)

Just for color and added flavor, I peeled and diced a few carrots, too.

Dice all those veggies so they're a uniform size. There's room for a bit of individualism here, but you want them to cook nicely.

And if you happen to have your potato pieces too big, they won't absorb the flavor of the soup, and you'll end up with a bite of...well, potato...instead of the flavorful concoction you're looking for.

The next major ingredient is broth. You want those veggies to simmer all day long in flavor.

I had some ham broth in the freezer from our Easter ham, so I used that. You could also use Vegetable Stock, Chicken Stock, or even plain water.

But you really want the flavor a good stock or broth will give you.

Use enough to cover your veggies by about an inch, once they're in the crock pot (or in your pot on the stove).

Cover that lovely mixture and let it simmer. I turn my crock pot on high for about an hour to get things started, then turn it down to low for 6-8 more hours.

About 30 minutes before you're ready to serve your soup, it's time to really dress it up. This is a nice, thick creamy soup - but it sure doesn't look like it yet.

The first step in dressing it up is to mash your potatoes. I have one of those old fashioned potato mashers that looks like a "W" gone crazy, but it works great. I use that to gently mash most of the potatoes against the bottom. It doesn't have to be all mashed - just not so chunky.

Now add milk, half-and-half, or cream. I didn't have any of those on hand, so I used some evaporated milk I had in the pantry.

The next part - the way to give your potato soup that nice, rich, stick-to-your-ribs body - is a secret.

Shhhh...don't let ANYBODY know I keep these in the house!

But instant potatoes are perfect for thickening all kinds of dishes, without worrying about lumps from using flour.

I used 1 cup of this secret ingredient for 8 cups of was perfect.

In the last 10 minutes or so of cooking time, add shredded cheese to your soup. I added 2 cups of cheese to mine, but I wish I had added more to make it cheesier.

Other tasty things you could add are ham, or bacon, or different cheeses. Steamed greens (kale or spinach) would be a great addition, too.

And there you have it! Good Old Fashioned Potato Soup - done your way.

Just remember the basic ingredients: potatoes, onions, broth, milk and cheese.

So, tell us, what will you add to your potato soup to make it your way?

And before I'm done, be sure to remember to pray for those affected by that old Sandy Storm last week. From inconvenience to tragedy, so many people were impacted by that storm.


  1. Jan, I LOVE potato soup!!!

    But I've never made it. This actually looks like something I can do!

    Going to try this... And hope the kids hate it because I want to eat it all! They can have sandwiches.

    1. Oh yes, Virginia, you can definitely do this. So easy it's sinful.

      Well, not as sinful as some things, but you know what I mean.

      By the way, I finished Season of Joy over the weekend. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

      It had that same sweet mixed with bittersweet feeling I love in Ruthy's books. Sigh.

    2. Thanks, Jan!! I'm so glad you liked it!

      And your bittersweet comment made me think of the Russian weddings I've been to, where the crowd chants 'GORKO' (bitter) until the bride and groom kiss (the sweet). But they don't let them stop until they think the bitter is all gone and the only thing left is sweet. :D

    3. That could take a lot of kissing... :D

  2. Jan, this looks fantastic!! I love a good potato soup!! And with cheese thrown in, makes it even better! Thanks for sharing your secret tip! I keep them in the pantry as well. :)

    1. Is tere something wrong with mashed potatos?? :D We eat them all the time. Great super fast side dish.

  3. Amen to your prayers for Hurricane Sandy victims. I've been watching the coverage and am appalled at the destruction!

    True confession: I love potato soup but have never made it because I thought it was too hard!!! I'd make this today but I don't have any instant potato mix. (yuck!) I do have some lovely heirloom carrots -- blue and white -- that I'll add when I make this recipe though. Oh -- and I take it you mash the carrots too -- not just the potatoes, right?

    Looking forward to this. I love soup for a meal when it's cold.

    1. Yes, I mash the carrots along with the potatoes.

      And if you don't have my...ahem...secret ingredient, you can make a paste with milk and flour to use as a thickening agent. Just whisk about 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup flour together, stir it into the soup, let it cook for awhile. If it isn't thick enough, you can do it again.

      I'm just enthralled with that color and white carrots!

      Oh, and parsnips would add a new edge to the flavor, too!

  4. Thankful for my sister having power again in NYC and Mary Curry who is volunteering to help those in her neighborhood.

    I love potato soup. I also use potato starch to thicken my soups!

    Peace and thanks for a great idea to put on this week's menu, Julie

    1. So glad your sister has power again!

      We're so far removed from the storm and clean-up out here in the west - it didn't affect our weather at all. But still, there's a semi-trailer at Walmart loading up donated goods to take east.

      Our country is so huge geographically and so divided politically, but look how we can come together when we need to.