Parmesan Potato Soup

Parmesan Potato SoupA few months ago my family had one of those really awful, horrible, no-good very bad days.  We had to put our puppy to sleep, and with my husband working out of town that day, the task of taking her to the vet and the subsequent burial was all mine (although my very sweet MIL helped tremendously with the digging).

For the next few days I had an awful time finding the energy to plan and prepare dinner.  Finally deciding I wanted the comfort of a hot bowl of potato soup but lacking the incentive to just make it – from scratch, no recipe involved – the way I usually did held no appeal.  I sent out a FB appeal for a simple recipe, and a friend sent a recipe that sounded great, with one problem:  it had absolutely no veggies in it, and I couldn’t imagine having to make two things for dinner that night.

That recipe turned into this one, and my whole family really likes it – even my soup-disliking three-year-old.  It has that traditional potato comfort feel but is chock full of veggies.  The delicate parmesan flavor comes through, eliminating the need for the heavy cheddar-laden versions often gracing my hips before.  It’s good just as a meatless main dish, but adding ham or bacon gives it a yummy richness.  I hope you like it as much as we do!

So, to make Parmesan Potato Veggie Soup …

First, wash your potatoes.  I use 4-6 medium sized potatoes.  Red or russet work well.  Bake them until done, usually about 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool.  Peel if desired (the peel does add lots of fiber and nutrients, though, so if the skin is thin it’s great to leave it on).  You can bake these the day before if you’ll be short on time when it’s time to cook – the rest of this soup comes together in a hurry.

Steam or otherwise prepare about 5 cups of veggies.  For this batch, I used 3 cups of broccoli and two cups of a California blend that included cauliflower, baby carrots, and yellow carrot slices.  I cooked mine in the bottom of my large dutch oven in just a bit of water.  This takes 3-5 minutes over boiling water.  Drain and set aside.

While the veggies are working, finely chop one onion and two stalks of celery.  I don’t mean the whole plant, just two pieces.  You get the idea.

Add this to the now-empty dutch oven with 1/2 c. of butter and cook over medium heat until the onions are transparent.  Stir occasionally.

While the onions are taking their butter bath, rough chop your potatoes.  Peel them first if you want to, of course.  We like our soup pretty chunky so I let some of the pieces be larger.  Because this soup comes together so fast, the potatoes will not break down much in the soup, so make your pieces the size that you want to eat them.

Go back to your onions, all buttery and clear and ready to go.  Add 1/2 cup of flour and stir it well.  It will completely absorb all the moisture left in the pot, but that’s okay – this is what will thicken your soup when the time comes.  Add the seasoning now, too.  Mix in 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil,  and 1/2 teaspoon of seasoning salt.  A bit of freshly ground pepper is good, too, but I couldn’t measure that – I just ground away straight into the pot.  Add the chopped potatoes and veggies back in, too.  I like to give the veggies a rough chop before tossing them in, as well.

Now, with the heat on low and stirring slowly, add 4 1/2 c. of chicken stock.  Let it come to a bubble – not a hard rolling boil, but a happy bubble – and let it go for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  It will look super thick at this point and should smell amazing.  Just hang on.  It gets better!

Now add 6 cups of milk and stir until combined and heated through.  Do this on low heat so that the milk doesn’t scorch.  If you like your soup REALLY thick, you may just want to add 5 cups.  Also, if you want to add ham to your soup, this is the time.  Add 1 cup of finely chopped, baked ham.

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