Last week I was squeezing in some last-minute shopping before the first big snowstorm of the season moved in. It was scheduled to start mid-afternoon and become really heavy during the rush hour. Which meant that my poor hubby would have a couple of hours of working and driving in the snow before he came home for the day. And to make matters worse, the snow was bringing with it some super cold temperatures. We were looking at -10 °F with the wind chill! We are used to winter in PA, but not that kind of winter.
So while I was grocery shopping, I decided what we needed for supper that night was a warm and hearty pot of creamy potato soup. I love creamy potato soup! I grew up eating it every winter. To me, a bowl of creamy potato soup says “comfort”. I thought that would be the perfect supper for a snowy, cold winter night. And then my husband could take leftover soup with him to work the next day as he worked in the subzero temps. I also knew that I had some potatoes at home that were starting to sprout so I really needed to do something with them soon. Making soup was the perfect choice.
When I make potato soup, we usually eat it plain. Occasionally we will top it with some shredded cheese or sour cream. But in light of the weather, I decided to bump up the toppings a little more and sprang for some bacon and green onions while I was at the store. Just to make supper a little extra special.
To make my soup, I start by sautéing some onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Then I add the potatoes with just enough water to cover them. And salt; don’t forget to add the salt while you are cooking the potatoes. If you forget to add the salt while boiling the potatoes, you will never be able to add enough salt later when you are cooking or eating them. The same is true of when you make mashed potatoes. Always add the salt to the water and then boil the potatoes. Then later you will only need to season with a little salt.
Once the water comes to a boil, turn back the heat, cover the pot and simmer until the potatoes are soft. Then mash the potatoes with a hand masher until most, but not all of the potatoes are mashed. Then I add a little cornstarch to thicken, some almond milk to get the desired consistency and a little salt and pepper to taste. You could add a little butter now if you wanted to. Then heat up the soup until it starts to bubble again. And then it’s done.
I think the olive oil that the soup is started with is enough fat to add flavor to the soup. I find that when I do add butter, I don’t even notice the difference. So you don’t need to add butter, especially if you want to make it dairy free. I also choose to use unsweetened almond milk instead of cow’s milk. We don’t drink cow’s milk anymore because we don’t think it is necessary, so we use almond milk in place of cow’s milk. If you use almond milk, it is a delicious way to make a creamy and tasty dairy free soup.
All that is left is to dish it up and decided what toppings you want, if you decide to add toppings. It is a delicious soup without the toppings because of the hearty flavor of the potatoes, onion and garlic. But toppings make it a little extra special. And sometimes after a hard day’s work in the cold and snow, all you need is a little extra special.
DAIRY FREE CREAMY POTATO SOUP
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium to large onion, diced
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
@ 3 pounds (or 7-8 medium and large) golden potatoes, washed, peeled, diced and rinsed
water, enough to cover potatoes in stock pot (@ 5 cups of water, depends on the amount of potatoes)
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed into an equal amount of cold water, stir to dissolve clumps
1-2 c. unsweetened almond milk (depends on how thick or soupy you like your soup and how much water you added)
dash of salt, if needed
black pepper, to taste
Heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Add onion and garlic. Sauté over medium high heat until soft. Add potatoes and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes are softened and can be easily pierced with a fork, approximately 10-15 minutes.
Remove from heat and semi-smash most of the potatoes with a hand masher. You want about half of the potatoes roughly mashed and the other half in whole pieces. Put pot back on the burner and turn back on to low heat. Stir in the cornstarch and water mixture. Stir mixture through all the soup. Add almond milk, salt and pepper. Heat soup until bubbly again, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and serve.
Makes 8 servings.