Some things are best just as they were served a decade or a century ago. Potato soup is kind of like that. Granted, there are many newer and fancier recipes for this particular dish, some including meat of some kind, some without. This particular recipe is entirely suitable for serving during Lent as well.
As a kid, I despised potato soup night. It’s sole saving grace was the cornbread that my mother served alongside of it. When I was older, when family fortunes weren’t as good, I associated potato soup with poverty. As an adult, I didn’t make it for decades. It was just too…plain and unassuming.
Then, I got older yet, and my grandmother had had a stroke and was an invalid. One afternoon, she asked me to make her some potato soup for her lunch. I knew better than to make anything fancy or to dare to serve her some kind of canned potato soup. I knew exactly what she wanted, and as my grandmother was our own family’s brand of royalty, what she wanted, she was going to get.
I went to the kitchen and made potato soup. I made it exactly like my mother and my grandmother made it, without variation or sprucing it up. It’s not a hard soup to make, nor does it require hours of cooking. It’s quick, simple, and somehow just says home and family. The ultimate comfort food in a sense.
Today, it still is all of those things, but it is also something that can be made to suit a lower calorie and reduced fat diet. It can also be made low sodium. It’s simple, it’s still fast to make, and with the cornbread at it’s side, it is still filling. It’s also very cheap.
In today’s economy, who doesn’t love “cheap eats” that still isn’t overly refined, processed, and packaged?
The basic formula is simple–one potato per person, along with 1/2-1/4 of an onion. Since this recipe was born out of need, it’s also a flexible recipe. While I use margarine to cook the onions in, the original was probably leftover bacon grease or lard. This version is somewhat modernized, and will make 4-6 good sized servings. It’s always best served alongside unsweetened cornbread (suggestion: try some of the coarser ground corn meals–it’s delicious!), whether you prefer the yellow or the white. For truly old fashioned dining, the cornbread would then be placed in the bowl and the soup ladled over it. I prefer my cornbread on the side, however.
Old fashioned Potato Soup
- 4 potatoes, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 6 c. water
- 1/2 c. margarine
Melt margarine in a large pot over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook until soft. Add salt, pepper, and potatoes. Stir to coat potatoes well with margarine, and saute for about 5 minutes. (Potatoes will not be done.) Add 6 c. water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add evaporated milk, and cook about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Serve with unsweetened cornbread.