My Great-Grandmother’s Potato Soup

When Safeway delivered my groceries last week, it was cheaper to buy a whole bag of Yukon gold organic potatoes. So now I’m making potato everything, trying to get through them before they turn green and sprout. I’ve already done mashed, home fries, and croquettes. I figured it was time to get a family recipe into the mix, since old Jews and potatoes are a match made in heaven.

Mashed Yukon Golds

Turns out my Great-grandmother’s recipe couldn’t be easier — just mash some potatoes and add milk, cream, and butter until you can’t any more. Pinch of salt and black pepper.

Well, I can’t have cream but I know I would miss the fat in this recipe, so sorry vegans, I fried up some bacon for breakfast and recycled the fat into the recipe. I was woken this morning by a tsunami warning and if the End of Days is upon us, I’m going out with a belly full of bacon. Plus, I have a hunch that my Great-grandmother, whom I never met, might have snuck some schmaltz (chicken fat to civilians) into this recipe. She was the type to spread it on toast, from what I have been told. I feel that bacon fat is in the spirit of schmaltz — even though bacon fat is a substance my observant Great-grandmother would never have tasted in her life — for obvious reasons.

Have been OD’ing on horrible news coverage of the disaster in Japan on CNN, while fielding calls from relatives and friends who know I live on the coast and worry, so I believe that a heavy, sustaining soup made from potatoes — the most stoic of starches — is pretty much medically necessary at this point. Just the thought of having to evacuate with one bad foot, a dog who bites everyone at the moment, and an elderly cat with bad kidneys who likes to scream in the car, was enough to send me back to bed this morning without any kind of evacuation plan.

If I do have to evacuate, at least I won’t be hungry!

My Great-grandmother’s Potato Soup


6 medium-sized Yukon gold or other buttery-tasting potatoes
4 cups of lactose-free milk*
6 tablespoons of Earth Balance or 4 of Earth Balance and 2 of bacon grease
An onion (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried parsley for garnish

Boil the potatoes until soft when poked. Drain. Use the same sauce pan to melt your grease. Add chopped onion (if using) and cook until soft and starting to become translucent. Add drained potatoes and mash (or if, like me, you use your potato masher as a paper towel holder, just throw the potatoes in there and wait).

Add milk and salt and pepper to taste. Put on low heat and cook gently for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Serve with toast made from heavy, peasant bread.

*I have been seeing recipes lately online that call for “safe” milk — which I guess means lactose-free or soy or other milk substitute. “Safe” feels like a bit of overkill though, doesn’t it?

About bakingnotwriting

I'm a writer who is always baking! Or a baker who is always writing...No. Other way around.
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9 Responses to My Great-Grandmother’s Potato Soup

  1. Wichita Sims says:

    That IS the most delicious looking soup.

    Question: Is everyone in your family hilarious?

    Another question: I thought the coupling was rednecks and potatoes, not old Jews.

  2. NTarnopolsky says:

    You’re not kidding that your great-great would have been horrified at the bacon grease! And she never put schmaltz on her rye bread. She really was too genteel for that sort of behavior.

  3. Wichita Sims says:

    I’m seriously thinking about making this. Yes, me – the Non-Cook. Do you think red onion would be good? Regular onion kind of upsets my stomach, but then maybe it won’t because it was cooked. I’m thinking about make it Vegan too so I would just leave out the bacon grease – right?

  4. Yes! Although if you are really vegan, no milk or butter! But you can just boil some potatoes, mash them, and start adding butter and milk until they look like soup. Salt and pepper to taste. That simple! You don’t even need the onions.

  5. AZ says:

    Potatoes originated in Peru, so I believe the Southwestern Mexican and papas trumps both the rednecks and potatoes and old Jews and potatoes :o) ! I’ve never made potato soup with Yukon golds, it makes for a beautiful potato soup.

  6. Thanks AZ! Great trivia. I think I remember reading that the Spaniards brought potatoes back to Europe from the New World. I like Yukon golds better for most everything because of their naturally buttery taste — although now that they are so popular I have noticed they don’t taste as distinctive. Have you ever grown potatoes? I had a garden once and I planted a handful of potatoes that were sprouting and was astounded to discover that potatoes continued popping up, years after I stopped actively growing them. The self-seeding nature of potatoes — and lack of need for either sun or nutrients — went a long towards explaining to me why potatoes are such a staple for so much of the world.

    • AZ says:

      Sorry for the long delay I’ve been sick with a cold. No I’ve never grown anything you can eat, my forays into gardening was limited to flowers. I tried herbs once, and PFFFT I was a total failure.

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