The Homemade Way: How to Make Creamy Potato Soup
If you have ever been disappointed with a potato soup recipe, chances are it wasn’t your fault. Use these tips for perfectly creamy potato soup.
Old fashioned potato soup recipes use a basic white sauce and cheddar cheese – a recipe for disaster. Why? Traditional cream soups have a tendency to break. In other words, they don’t maintain a creamy consistency and the broth separates. This happens if the soup is boiled after the white sauce is added. Cream soups are fragile. They cannot withstand boiling. They also have a tendency to scorch, which can give the soup a burned flavor.
The other problem may be the cheese itself. Cheddar cheese can become grainy when it is melted. Not so good in a soup that is supposed to smooth.
The solutions are very simple. Don’t use white sauce or cheddar. How, then, do you get a creamy consistency? It is quite simple. The main ingredient in potato soup is potatoes. They are a starchy vegetable, that when smashed or mashed will thicken a soup broth. There are a couple of ways you can accomplish. You can mash or puree some of the fresh potatoes you’ve cooked into the soup or you can use instant mashed potato flakes. A little goes a long way, so go easy. You’re making soup, not mashed potatoes.
Next, the cheese. Use cream cheese. It melts smooth and does not take on a grainy texture. The cooking method is still vitally important. Don’t hard boil the cream cheese in the broth. You can scorch it. The trick is to just barely boil it over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the cheese is completely melted. It is more like a strong simmer. Remove it from the heat as soon as the cheese is melted. If you have ever had Panera Bread Baked Potato Soup, this is how they do it. No white sauce, no cheddar cheese. Just potatoes, broth and cream cheese makes one of the best potato soups ever.
Steps for Making Perfect Potato Soup
Bring your broth to a boil, add the cubed potatoes, onions, garlic or whatever else you’re adding. Cook it just until the potatoes are tender. Take a few of the potatoes out of the broth and puree or run through a food mill, then stir them back into the broth. Alternatively, stir in one to two tablespoons of instant potato flakes. I suggest you start with one tablespoon at a time unless you are making a huge pot of soup. Remember, you still have to add the cheese, so don’t get it too thick at first.
Stir in 8 ounces of softened cream cheese cut into chunks per quart of broth. Cook and stir over medium heat until the cheese is melted. Remove from the heat immediately. If the soup is still not thick enough, go ahead and add a little more of the potato flakes or puree some more of the potatoes and add them back in.
If you still crave that sharp Cheddar flavor, go ahead and sprinkle some on top of each serving. You will get all the flavor without risking the soup. Top each bowl with a little bit of crumbled bacon and chopped fresh chives. Eat it hot and enjoy.