Everyone has their favourite soup when the fall weather turns into winter. Mine is potato soup. I don’t remember who made this for me, whether it was my grandmother or my mother, or when or how it became my favourite. In sharing these recipes with readers, I hope to share some of the warmth and comfort they have given me over the years.
The first mention of potatoes in the Americas seems to be in the journals of Magellan and Columbus, where they are called “batatas.” They were brought to southern and central America when Pizarro conquered Peru, and spread via Spanish forts and ships.
In Ireland, the potato was introduced in 1565, and it quickly became the main element of the Irish diet – to the extent that, when the Irish potato crop failed in 1847, one-and-a-half million Irish died, with another million emigrating, mostly to America.
The potato also helped feed the starving masses of Europe when famine struck in 1770. The French leader Parmentier set up potato soup kitchens to feed people and, to this day, potato soup bears his name in the French language. Here are some recipes from my files.
POTAGE FERMIÈRE (FARMERS SOUP)
makes three to four servings
1 small finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp butter or margarine
1 diced potato
3 cups water
3 tsp pareve chicken powder
1 sliced leek
1/4 tsp dry tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp non dairy creamer or milk
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped parsley
grated Parmesan cheese
- Sauté onion in butter or margarine in a soup pot.
- Add potato, water and chicken soup powder; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
- Add leek, tarragon, salt and pepper and pareve cream or milk. Cover and simmer 10 minutes longer or until leeks are tender.
- Mash with potato masher or puree in blender. Garnish with parsley. Have Parmesan cheese in a bowl for each person to sprinkle over soup.
CREAMY POTATO SOUP
This recipe comes from The Kosher Palette (Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy), edited by Susie Fishbein and Sandra Blank. It makes 24 servings.
3 tbsp oil
8 peeled, cubed potatoes
6 peeled, thinly sliced carrots
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
8 cups water
1 cup non-dairy creamer
1 peeled onion
2 ribs sliced celery
2-3 bay leaves
finely chopped parsley
- Heat oil in a soup pot. Add potatoes and sauté three to five minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add carrots and stir. Stir in flour, salt and paprika. Add water, creamer, onion, celery and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer one-and-a-half hours, stirring occasionally. Remove onion, celery and bay leaves.
- Serve with warm, crusty bread. Garnish with parsley. Soup may be served chunky or smooth processed in a blender.
POTATO CUCUMBER SOUP
This recipe is adapted from a magazine but I don’t know which one or when. Its origins are Polish, Russian or Ukrainian. It makes nine servings.
6 peeled, quartered potatoes
2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp chicken soup powder
1 tbsp minced onion
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups pareve creamer or milk
2 1/2 cups peeled cucumbers
1 tsp dill weed
- In soup pot, heat potatoes, water, chicken soup powder, onion, salt and pepper. Reduce, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
- Mash potatoes. Add creamer or milk and cucumbers. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in dill.
Sybil Kaplan is a journalist, author, compiler/editor of nine kosher cookbooks and a food writer for North American Jewish publications, who lives in Jerusalem where she leads weekly walks of the Jewish food market, Machaneh Yehudah, in English.