I love the smell in the kitchen when I make soups or sauces that begin with a mirepoix. It takes me back to holidays when my mother (and my grandmother before her) would use a mirepoix as the base of the Thanksgiving or Christmas filling. Though neither of them would likely have the slightest notion of what a mirepoix is, the fact is that they embedded in me a love of the smells of the kitchen at an early age with this simple and basic preparation.
Though it is still hot here in Thailand, I know that fall is in the air in many northern climes, so a hot and filling soup like this seemed a perfect way to kick off fall, and stay away from any pumpkin dishes as well.
The potato soup is a staple in most European country cuisine, and it’s no wonder why. Potatoes are easy to grow yourself, cheap if you have to buy them, and store for a very long time in cool conditions. Even here in sub-tropical Thailand potatoes keep for weeks. It’s probably one of the only ingredients I’ve never had to throw away in our nearly 4 years here. Note that this is not a low calorie or diet soup. It is hearty and filling and meant to stick to your ribs and give you energy during those cold winter days and nights.
- 1 pound bacon, roughly chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 2-3 stalks diced celery
- (the amount of onion, carrot and celery should be roughly equal - this is known as a mirepoix)
- 4 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 4 medium red potatoes, diced
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 4 cups heavy whipping cream (use half and half or gasp! whole milk if you wish)
- Optional garnishes: chopped chives, chopped scallions, bacon bits, sour cream, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- In a 6- to 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp.
- Remove bacon and drain on paper towels, reserving half for garnish. In bacon fat, cook onions, carrots, and celery until the onions are translucent. Add potatoes and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Whisk in flour and stir constantly over low heat until the flour is cooked and the mixture has thickened slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add chicken stock and half of the bacon. Add ¼ teaspoon of pepper at this point, but no salt. The bacon has lots of salt and may be enough, we will adjust later if necessary.
- Over medium-high heat, bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the potatoes are soft. Mash some of the potatoes if you want a thicker, creamier texture. Add whipping cream and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Adjust thickness by adding water or stock. Soup should have a creamy consistency.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
- Spoon into serving bowls and garnish with toppings.
This is a decidedly American take on potato soup, with the addition of bacon and cheese mirroring the stuffed baked potatoes that can be had at so many steak houses and barbeque joints. If you like loaded baked potatoes I guarantee you’ll love this soup, which is so familiar and comforting. In fact, if you come from European stock, it will likely strike a genetic chord with you, as the humble potato is so rooted in European cuisine. Bon appetit!