One Potato, Two Potato, Part 1: Cognac-Laced Potato Cream Soup
The humble potato is so versatile—and filling—that I’m not sure why I don’t use it more often.
This soup sounds fancy, but you can whip it up in no time flat—with stuff you probably already have in your house. Loaded with potatoes and heavy cream, it’s also ridiculously decadent (no diet food today!).
With this recipe, you build deep flavor quickly by browning the veggies, deglazing the pan with white wine, then simmering the soup with a fresh bay leaf and a generous amount of garlic powder.
An infusion of heavy cream, a sprinkle of nutmeg, and a drizzle of cognac added at the end elevate the soup from ordinary to fabulously yummy.
This recipe is practical for weeknights because it cooks fast and doesn’t make a giant vat. (I love making big pots of soup and freezing them, but let’s face it: Sometimes you just don’t want to go through all that trouble.)
Serve it as a starter or main course for an elegant weeknight dinner.
A note on ingredients
For the white wine, use any dry wine you like to drink. This is important, because cooking will only reduce and concentrate its flavor. (If you didn’t like it to begin with, you probably won’t like it when it’s concentrated.)
For the potatoes, use any kind you like. Because you’re going to puree the soup, consistency and firmness are less of an issue. I used russet here, because that’s what I had in the house, but you could just as easily use red or white potatoes, too.
To make this soup vegetarian, substitute veggie broth for the chicken stock.
A note on equipment (a.k.a. why I love my immersion blender)
The fastest way to puree the soup is with an immersion blender.
If you don’t have one, you can totally use a regular blender. I prefer my immersion blender because it’s faster (you puree the soup right in the pot) and there’s less clean up (no need to disassemble and wash the blender).
If you like to make soup, an immersion blender is a fabulous investment. There are a bunch of expensive ones out there that I’m sure are great. I have one that’s about 12 years old now, but this Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Blender should work just fine.
Plus, as of today at least, it’s on sale for $29.99 (that’s 45% off the $55 list price).
Cognac-Laced Potato Cream Soup
1 Tbls. butter
2 cups potato, cut into small dice
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 fresh bay leaf
1 Tbls. garlic powder
freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
a few drops of cognac
fresh parsley, minced (for garnish)
Cognac-Laced Potato Cream Soup: Prep the veggies
It’s important to cut the onion and potato up into small dice, so they cook quickly. Some recipes describe dice size in inches, which, while accurate, isn’t super helpful for me, since I don’t keep a ruler in the kitchen.
You want your potatoes to be about the size of a sugar cube.
Skin the potato and onion, then chop them up. For scale, here’s a piece of potato sitting on my 10-inch chef’s knife:
Cognac-Laced Potato Cream Soup: Brown the veggies
Melt the butter in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
Toss in the diced potato and onion.
Give them a stir to combine and coat with butter. Raise the heat to medium-high.
Cook for a few minutes like this, stirring occasionally, until the veggies start to brown. Your goal is a thick-ish layer of browned goodness on the bottom of your pot, like this:
This will happen quickly, so don’t walk away from your pot.
Cognac-Laced Potato Cream Soup: Deglaze the pan
When the bottom of your pot is coated and your veggies are slightly browned, pour in the white wine. (Be careful, there’ll be a poof of steam.)
Leave the heat on medium-high. Scrape at the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen all those brown bits (that’s pure flavor!).
As you scrape the bottom of the pot, the wine should start to simmer and thicken considerably (from the starch in the potato). That’s just fine.
Cognac-Laced Potato Cream Soup: Add the chicken stock
When you’ve gotten all of the brown bits, pour in the chicken stock.
Toss in the bay leaf. Fresh is better, because the flavor is much more pronounced. If you don’t have them on hand, though, use a dried one.
Add the garlic powder and whisk it to mix well.
Now, this is a fair amount of garlic powder, and the soup will smell *very* garlicky until you add the cream. The cream tempers the garlic considerably. The two together are rich and mellow.
That said, if you’re concerned about it, totally use less garlic. You can always toss more in at the end if you like.
Raise the heat to high and bring the soup up to a boil.
When it’s boiling, drop the heat down to low and cover the pot tightly. Simmer covered for 10 minutes, or until your veggies are cooked through.
After 10 minutes, uncover your pot. Fish out a larger chunk of potato and onion and poke them with a fork to make sure they’re completely soft.
Cognac-Laced Potato Cream Soup: Puree the soup
When they’re cooked through, it’s time to puree the soup. Remove the bay leaf from the pot and toss it.
Using your immersion blender, puree the soup ’til it’s smooth. Turn the heat completely off while you do this.
Depending on the size of your pot, you may have to tip it a little to make the soup deep enough to blend without splattering.
If you’re using a regular blender, transfer the soup in batches to your blender and process ’til smooth. Don’t overfill your blender (so it doesn’t overflow with hot soup).
You want the soup to look about like this:
Cognac-Laced Potato Cream Soup: Finish the soup
Add the cream to the pureed soup.
Whisk the soup to thoroughly incorporate the cream.
Add the nutmeg and stir to combine.
Turn the heat on to medium-high and bring the soup up to a boil. When it’s boiling, drop the heat so that the soup is simmering. Simmer like this, uncovered, for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally.
After 5 minutes, give the soup a taste. Add more salt/pepper/garlic/nutmeg if you like.
Cognac-Laced Potato Cream Soup: Serve & enjoy!
Before serving, put a little cognac in the bottom of each soup bowl. I used maybe a half teaspoon for each bowl. Use more or less to taste.
(If you’re unsure about how much to add, start with a little. You can always stir more in.)
Ladle the soup into the bowls.
Garnish with a little fresh, minced parsley. Crispy bacon would also be a fabulous garnish.
Serve and enjoy!
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