My father's favorite soup was potato, and my daughters have inherited his love for it.
Every Wednesday when they were in high school, I would buy them a quart of potato soup from a local restaurant.
This potato soup recipe is perfect for these evenings when there is a chill in the air in a tempestuous spring. Even though the soup includes milk and a touch of half-and-half, there's enough chicken stock in the broth to make it taste quite light.
Soups were made to be garnished, so this recipe has a couple tasty add-ins — crumbled blue cheese for a bit of tang and crispy bacon for a smoky, salty finish.
For St. Patrick's Day, I served it with Irish soda bread, but any crusty, high-quality bread will add to your dunking pleasure.
I like to mash half the potatoes before stirring in the milk and cheese. Leftovers can be refrigerated for two days, but it won't freeze particularly well (the potatoes will turn mushy).
Potato Soup With Shredded Cheddar
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 leeks, sliced and washed
8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 (12-ounce) bottle Irish ale
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar
For optional garnishes:
Finely minced parsley
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
Crisp cooked bacon, crumbled
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 6- to 8-quart stockpot. Add onion and leeks. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are barely soft.
Add potatoes, ale, stock and a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes. When soft, mash about half of the potatoes with a masher or fork, and leave the rest whole.
Melt remaining butter in a medium saucepan. Gradually add flour, whisking until smooth. Cook 3 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, to remove the raw taste. Slowly stir in milk and half-and-half, whisking until hot and thickened. Add cheddar cheese, and stir until melted.
Stir cheese and milk mixture into potato mixture until well combined. Cook over very low heat for 10 minutes until soup is heated through.
Ladle into soup bowls, and sprinkle with parsley, blue cheese and bacon, if desired.
Makes 8 servings.
— Adapted from jamesbeard.org