“During the great potato famine of 1845, many Irish immigrants came to this country with the hope that they could continue to make this wonderful soup,” writes Jeff Smith in “The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors.”
Potato Onion Soup, Irish Style
4 tablespoons butter
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 cups milk
5 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, whole
1 cup half-and-half
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
6 slices lean bacon, crisply fried and chopped
Heat a 6- to 8-quart stockpot, add the butter and onion, and cook gently. Do not let the onion brown. Add the peeled and sliced potatoes, milk and stock. Add the herbs. Cover and cook gently for about an hour. Prepare a roux: Melt the butter in a small saucepan and whisk in the flour. Let the flour and butter mixture (roux) bubble for 2 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Thicken the soup with the roux, whisking carefully to avoid lumps. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes and then purée the soup in a food processor or blender, if desired. (You could also purée half of the mixture, so you have a variety of textures in the soup.) Add the half-and-half and gently reheat, but do not boil. Season with the salt and pepper. Serve with chopped fresh chives and the crisply fried bacon as garnishes.
This soup can be made with the chopped white part of 5 or 6 large leeks instead of onions. Additional garnishes you can use instead of bacon are chopped prawns or a small dice of lobster.
To make a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock and leave out the bacon.
Makes 8-10 servings.
Adapted from “The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors” by Jeff Smith