This Easy Potato Soup recipe is the real deal. Shared with me from the granddaughter of an Idaho potato farmer, this homemade soup is creamy, thick, and luxurious, even without the optional cheesy garnish. It is truly the best cream of potato soup I’ve ever had. And it only takes about 30 minutes to make! Originally posted September 11, 2021.
Table of Contents
Yesterday my 4-year-old daughter Valentine came rushing into the room with blood all over her face. Since she wasn’t screaming in pain we quickly realized it was just a nosebleed, but still, that much red is enough to make anyone panic.
I started yelling at Eric, “Look up what to do for a bloody nose!” But then I realized he had already dialed his mother’s phone number.
No matter how old you get, calling mom is just instinctual, right? “Mom, what do we do for a nosebleed??” “I don’t know, let me look it up!” So his mom googled what to do and dictated to us over the phone. Thanks for your help Kris. Next time you can just tell us to cut out the middle man!
It reminds me of one time when my friend told me that she spent 45 minutes on the phone, complaining to her mom about her kids, and then hung up and realized that someday when she’s 75, her kids are STILL going to call and complain to her. There is no escape!! Ah, motherhood!
Anyway, you would think that a traumatic nosebleed was the biggest scare of the day, but really it was our brand new couch. The one that took us 6 months of marital stress to decide on. It finally arrived a few weeks ago, cushy and new. And now there was blood all over it. I think that’s why Eric was really calling his mom.
Good news, the stain actually came out just fine, but there was a spot on the carpet that I had to get down on my hands and knees to start figuring out. Our rug has a really high pile, high enough that painful legos get lost in it sometimes. There, in the exact spot of the stain, was an entire piece of gum, folded into the fringe of the carpet. It had clearly been there A WHILE. Please don’t judge me. (If you are judging me, you might not have kids.)
Nothing that a little machete action couldn’t take care of. Two stains with one snip. Who needs that high pile. Don’t look at my rug too closely on the side near the piano. It looks like a muppet with a bad haircut.
Well aside from bad rug haircuts, we’ve got LOTS of soup going on lately! It’s still like 100 degrees here in Sacramento but I love you enough to test soup in this weather so that you can have the recipe in time for when the weather starts cooling off. Because who doesn’t love soup on a chilly day?
This Easy Potato Soup Recipe is so flavorful and awesome
This recipe is from my sister Laura, who got it from her old roommate Janelle, who got it from her grandmother Mary Hanks, who owns a potato farm in Idaho. It doesn’t get more authentic than this my friends. Trust me, I know lots of people from Idaho, and they take their potatoes SERIOUSLY.
I love this soup because it doesn’t rely on garnishes to be awesome. I feel like a lot of potato soup recipes I’ve tried are kind of ho-hum, but then you add cheese and bacon and it’s fine. Good enough.
Not this soup. It is packed with flavor all on its own. There is no cheese in the soup recipe itself, just a perfectly balanced white sauce that gives you all the flavor and texture you need. And please, put down the bacon. Bacon has its place in the world, but I feel like it steals potato’s glory in this recipe. Let your potatoes shine! They deserve it!
Creamy Potato Soup ingredients
This recipe is so stupid easy. I’ll take you through it step by step! Here are the ingredients you need (full recipe and instructions in the recipe card below!)
- Better than Bouillon Chicken Base
- Parsley (dried is fine)
- Whole milk
First you’re going to need 2 giant Russet potatoes. Why Russet? Let’s go deep, Russ:
Best Potatoes for Soup
Russet Potatoes are the best kind to use for this potato soup recipe. Their high starch content and light texture provide that creamy, smooth mouthfeel we are looking for. They work well if you want to completely cream the soup (no bits of potato) or if you want to mash a little but still have some chunks.
If you have Yellow, Red, or Yukon Gold Potatoes on hand, you can use them in a pinch. They’re not quite as high in starch as good ol’ Russ, so they don’t fall apart as easily. If you prefer your potato soup with distinct chunks of potato, you can substitute Yellow, Yukon, or Red.
But don’t use any other kind of potato. They have high moisture content and are more waxy, meaning they don’t get as creamy. Say no to waxy soup.
Should I leave potato skin on for soup?
Definitely not! The glorious thing about potato soup is the creamy texture. Nasty peels ruin it. Don’t even go there. (Are you one of those people who leaves the peels in Mashed Potatoes, too? Get out.)
How to make Potato Soup
So here’s our Russet. Each of the big guys weighs about a pound. Peel em up and chop them pretty small, about 1/2 inch or so. You should end up with about 4 cups, but it’s ok to be slightly over or under to use what you have on hand.
By the way, if your measuring cup looks like it’s been to the fiery gates of hell and back like mine has, go ahead and buy yourself a new one. You have my permission. I don’t know why I haven’t given myself permission, exactly. A friend of mine told me the other day that I need to stop being so tightfisted, and I think she has a point. (She is not a mean friend btw, she’s just a good enough friend to be able to tell it to me straight. If you don’t have a friend who can say crap to your face, get yourself one stat.)
Now, peel and chop up 1-3 carrots, depending on size. Dice them up nice and small. You want about a cup, more or less, you do you.
Should potatoes be cooked before adding to soup?
Nope, they go in the pot raw, along with the carrots.
Add all the vegetables to a pot, at least 3 quart capacity. Add about 3 cups of water to the vegetables. You want the water to just barely cover them, so if it’s a little short you can add more.
Next add the heaping tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base (or Turkey!) and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Dried parsley is a totally fine substitute!
Bring the pot to a boil on high, and then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables and carrots are extremely tender. Like, slide a fork in with no resistance level tender. No cheating. We don’t want any crunchy, undercooked potatoes in our soup thankyouverymuch. Vent the lid while cooking to let some of the steam escape.
While that cooks, get out another mediumish pot and make your bechamel. That’s a fancy word for white sauce.
How to thicken Potato Soup
Nobody wants to eat watery potato soup. We’re all about the creeeeamy. For this potato soup recipe, we are using two different methods to help get that thick, luxurious texture. The first is to make a bechamel.
Start off by melting some butter and adding in some flour, salt and pepper. This is called a roux. I know, so many fancy French words.
Next we turn this goodness into a white sauce by adding milk. Sloooowwwwly. Don’t you dump it in all at once. You don’t want flour chunks in your soup do you?? Didn’t think so. As you slowly add the milk to the roux, the milk becomes thickened and adds richness to the flavor and texture of the soup. Yes please.
When you add your first bit of milk your roux is going to seize up and spit at you and you are going to think you have completely screwed up. I mean look at this mess in the picture on the left! Never fear, just keep whisking, keep adding milk slooowly, and pretty soon it will turn into creamy goodness, I promise! Observe:
See? Perfection! Taste it. So homey, right?
The second way to thicken the soup is to use the starch in the potatoes themselves. Do you see how tender this potato is after boiling? This is what I was talking about up there when I said Russet potatoes “fall apart.”
There should be no resistance at all. Use a potato masher or fork to roughly mash the mixture to your desired texture. As you mash the cooked potatoes, the natural starches are released into the broth and thicken it. It’s magical.
How much you mash is totally up to you. I like a velvety soup with some chunks, as you can see in the photo on the right. You can leave it very chunky by not mashing at all (left photo), or if you want an ultra smooth soup you can use an immersion blender.
After mashing or blending, pour the white sauce from the smaller pan into the larger pot and stir it all together. Double check your seasonings and see if you need to add any more salt or pepper, and that’s it! You’re done!
Add in some cheese and green onions and that’s it. Hold off on the bacon. I mean. Bacon is delicious. Add it if you want. I just need you to know how good this soup is without it!
Potato Soup Recipe Storage Tips
This potato soup can be stored in the fridge for up to five days. It’s not a good one to freeze since it has dairy in it, and it will get grainy (blech, no thanks).
Can you make potato soup ahead?
Potato Soup can absolutely be made ahead of time! It’s a great option to make in the morning for dinner that night, or a day in advance. Prepare as directed, allow to cool, then store in an airtight container for about 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Over time, the white sauce in the soup will start to break down and make it a little more watery with each passing day, so the best quality will be within the first few days. Reheat on the stove over low heat, stirring occasionally, or in the microwave.
Can you freeze potato soup?
Bad news guys. Unlike almost every other soup, Potato Soup does not freeze well. It is best enjoyed within 3-5 days of making. Time to invite some friends over for a soup party to finish it up. Because potatoes are so starchy, they tend to absorb a lot of moisture. This means that during the thawing process they take on extra moisture and can become very grainy. Also, some dairy based soups have a tendency to separate and lose their creaminess after freezing. It’s definitely best enjoyed immediately!
Toppings for this Potato Soup Recipe
The best part about this potato soup recipe is all the delicious toppings you can add! It’s nice because it makes it very customizable for each person. I actually feel like this soup needs very little garnish. It stands alone very well, I eat it without the cheese even a lot of the time.
- cheddar cheese
- chopped green onions
- chopped fresh parsley
- crumbled bacon (I actually dislike adding bacon. It changes the whole profile of the soup and makes you hunt for bacon while you’re eating. Let the potato have its moment, okay?)
- sour cream (I mean, you can, but this soup is so creamy I kind of feel like it’s unnecessary)
These are the basics. Other options include adding proteins like ham, rotisserie chicken, or spicy sausage. Or you could add in vegetables like corn, roasted veggies, jarred peppers, etc. If you’re looking to get rid of some leftovers, potato soup can be a great vehicle!
What to serve with Potato Soup
When you have a main dish as thick and hearty as this soup, it’s nice to pair it with something light and refreshing for some balance. I think this Raspberry Avocado Salad would be particularly nice, or perhaps a simple No Chop Green Salad or Pineapple Spinach Salad. Some Oven Roasted Broccoli or Roasted Asparagus would also be great sides, especially in colder months.
And I don’t know about you, but I could never say no to pairing this with some good bread, like this One Hour French Bread, The Best Garlic Bread of Your Life, Aunt Shirley’s Famous Dinner Rolls, or even some Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Yes please!
Who’s going to make potato soup on the first rainy day this season?? I’m here for it!
Easy Potato Soup FAQs
There are so many ways to infuse your potato soup with flavor! In this recipe, we’re starting with a Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base which starts the soup off right. Garlic, salt, pepper, and butter may seem basic as seasonings go, but they help bring out the simple flavor of the potatoes wonderfully.
This recipe for potato soup is far from bland, but if you want to add even more flavor, feel free to mix in other herbs and seasonings of your choice. You can also add whatever toppings you prefer, like cheese, green onions, and parsley.
I don’t recommend it. Part of what makes this easy potato soup so darn good is its rich flavor and creamy texture. That is precisely what the milk is for! Water will create a thinner, diluted soup and that, my friends, won’t be nearly as delicious.
Leftover potato soup will last for anywhere from 3-5 days in the fridge. Just let it cool, pack it up in an airtight container, and enjoy leftovers for lunch all week!
To reheat your soup, you can warm single servings in a bowl in the microwave or a larger batch on low on the stove until heated through.
Sour cream isn’t a thickener, unless you’re using it in place of water or milk. It adds great tang and creaminess as a topping, but if you want a thick potato soup, sour cream isn’t the answer. The way to get nice thick potato soup is to use the right ratio of liquid to potatoes, and to make sure some of that liquid is milk. Making a roux with butter and flour ensures that you’re getting thickeners in as a base to the soup and not as an afterthought. This isn’t prison gruel!
A creamy soup requires full fat dairy. I use whole milk and butter – simple, cheap, always in my fridge. For the extra creamy goodness, you can add a little (or a lot) sour cream and cheddar cheese on top :-)
Potatoes are life. But they don’t have a lot of flavor on their own. Dairy products aren’t super flavorful either (other than the fat they contain). Some potato soups don’t call for anything other than salt and pepper to season them, which will leave you with a bland soup. My recipe calls for Better than Bouillon Chicken Base, garlic, and parsley, all of which add flavor. I also think the carrots add a delightful sweetness you don’t see in your standard potato soup.
Check for two potential problems if your potatoes won’t soften up.
You just haven’t cooked them long enough. If you’ve simmered the soup for 20 minutes, the potatoes should be nice and soft.
You’re cooking them in an acidic broth. Acid can keep potatoes from softening. There’s no acid in this recipe, but if you’re making one with lemon or vinegar, that may be your problem.
Sure, it’s possible. If you cook potatoes for too long, they can become crumbly instead of holding their shape. It’s really not that big a deal, but it’s better to cook them just until soft and tender. About 20 minutes of simmering should get them to delicious softness.
More soup recipes you are going to love!
- Zuppa Toscana Copycat << this soup will totally knock your socks off. I mean have you been to Olive Garden??
- Ham Mac and Cheese Soup << Creamy. Comforting. Takes about 30 minutes. What’s not to love?
- Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup << Say goodbye to Panera and hello to THIS!!
- How to Make Tomato Soup << it’s so easy and sooo much better than the can.
- Creamy Turkey Rice Soup << This is probably favorite soup ever. There, I said it.
- Hold up I forgot about this one: Beef Barley Soup. The king of beef soups. The shredded carrots are the secret!
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup << a fall classic with good reason!
- Navy Bean Soup with Ham from The Forked Spoon
- Buffalo Chicken Soup from The Girl Who Ate Everything
- Easy Wonton Soup from SkinnyTaste
Potato Soup Recipe (Easy)
For the vegetables
- 4 cups diced Russet potatoes, 2 large potatoes, about 2 pounds
- 1 cup diced carrots, about 2 large
- 1 clove garlic, mashed and diced
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base, chicken or turkey flavor is great
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the white sauce
- 1/2 cup butter, one stick
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 cups milk, whole milk is best
- cheddar cheese
- chopped green onions
- chopped parsley
- Boil the veggies. Peel the potatoes (2 large potatoes, about 2 lbs) and dice them. I like a fairly small dice, about 1/2 inch. Place in a stock pot or 3 quart pot. If you have not quite 4 cups of potatoes, or more like 5 cups, don't sweat it that's fine.
- Peel the carrots and dice about the same size as the potatoes. Add to the pot.
- Smash and mince 1 clove of garlic and add to the pot.
- Add 3 cups of water to the potatoes and carrots. The water should be just barely covering the vegetables, so add a little more or less to make sure they are just barely covered. (We are not draining these potatoes, this water will be part of the soup.)
- Add a heaping tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon Base. The Roasted Chicken flavor is great, but I also love the Turkey base, it has really rich flavor. If you don't have Better than Bouillon, you can use a couple teaspoons of bouillon granules or cubes. Those are much saltier than the paste so be careful.
- Chop about 1/4 cup fresh parsley, or use 1 tablespoon dried parsley. Add it to the pot.
- Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium to keep it at a steady simmer. Vent the lid (tilt it so that steam can escape.) Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are very tender. You should be able to smash one with a fork easily. Remove from heat.
- Use a potato masher and roughly mash the mixture to your desired texture. I like a velvety soup with some chunks. You can leave it very chunky by not mashing at all, or if you want an ultra smooth soup you can use an immersion blender.
- Make the white sauce (bechamel). Meanwhile, in a 2 quart pot or larger, melt 1/2 cup butter over medium heat. Once it is melted, add 1/2 cup flour and use a whisk to stir it together into a paste. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook this mixture for 1-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Slowly add the 4 cups of milk, 1 cup at a time. Use the whisk to incorporate the milk into the roux (roux=butter/flour mixture) every time you add more. See photos. It should take a few minutes to add all the milk.* If you dump it in all at once, you will have flour chunks in your soup. Don't be like that.
- Once all the milk is added, keep stirring often so the bottom doesn't scorch. Your heat should still be on medium. Wait until the mixture has come to a boil (consistent bubbles rising from the center) and then let boil for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from heat.
- Pour the white sauce into the pot with the potatoes, using a spatula to scrape all that goodness in. Stir the mixture together.
- Serve warm and garnish with extra chopped parsley, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. Don't freeze this soup! The potatoes absorb tons of moisture, making the white sauce separate, and then it gets grainy on you. No thanks. Time to invite a friend over for soup and stories. I mean shouldn't that be a thing anyway?