Where I’m at here in San Diego, I have easy access to many high quality supermarkets offering a half dozen to a dozen varieties of potatoes. There are several farmers markets within reasonable distance, as well as a specialty produce store just down the street. It makes the task of finding nice, fresh fruits and vegetables a simple one.
For potato soups where the broth needs thickening like chowder, or where I’ll be pureeing the soup like Vichyssoise, I use a regular Russet or baking potato. They break down when cooked and release starch into the cooking liquid that acts as a natural thickening agent. When I boil potatoes, I will run the cooking liquid through a strainer and return it to the stockpot to start my soup, or keep some of the strained liquid on hand for use later in the recipe.
Lots of potato soup recipes have need for a potato that will hold its shape when cooked and also not release so much starch that the stock gets cloudy. New potatoes, or red skinned potatoes are good choices and readily available. They can be found in most supermarkets for purchase individually or packaged in small 1 or 2 pound bags.
Yellow fleshed potatoes have medium starch content and a brilliant yellowish gold color that makes that very visually appealing and a good choice for most potato soups. They don’t soften quite like baking potatoes, but when boiled or baked and tossed in a blender, they puree nicely.
Sweet potatoes are fairly low in starch and make good potatoes for soups. The sweet potato is great for cooking and pureeing, as well as for dicing and adding to soups where the desire is for the potato pieces to retain their shape.
For special occasions, when I want to add a little variety to a dish, I will purchase purple potatoes. Like purple carrots they have a vibrant color, and when served they make a dazzling presentation. They do stain, and should be handled carefully.
Roasted Potato and Parsnip Soup with Onion and Bacon
Rich, smooth potato soup features baking potato, olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, chopped shallot, garlic, parsnip pieces, vegetable stock, bacon slices, white onion, heavy cream, and butter,
Published: October 15, 2013
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 pound baking potatoes, such as Russet or Yukon Gold, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- 3 large shallots, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, halved
- 1 large parsnip, cut into small pieces
- 4 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock
- 4 bacon slices, cut into thin strips
- 1 white onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Toss potato pieces in olive oil, season with sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Arrange prepared potato pieces on baking sheet, and roast 45 minutes or until golden brown.
- Turn occasionally to ensure even roasting.
- Transfer potatoes from baking sheet to Dutch oven.
- Stir in the chopped shallot, garlic halves, and parsnip pieces.
- Add the homemade chicken stock, bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.
- Reduce heat to low. Cover Dutch oven and simmer for 20 minutes.
- While soup is simmering sauté bacon in nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp.
- Remove bacon to paper towels to drain. Crumble.
- Add onion to skillet and sauté, stirring frequently until golden brown. Remove from heat. Set aside.
- Remove soup from heat. Stir in heavy cream and unsalted butter.
- Puree the soup in small batches in blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into bowl.
- Rinse Dutch oven and return soup to clean pot. Simmer until heated through.
- Season individual servings of soup to taste with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Garnish with caramelized onion and crumbled crispy bacon.