OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I started this soup from a recipe my friend Ginny got from her grandmother that my sister Amanda loves to death.  The basic soup recipe was fine — potatoes, milk, butter, cheese — but I wanted to make a more exact version with some more punch.

This soup’s easy to make; most of the work is in processing the potatoes, then it practically cooks itself.  You’ll want a potato masher and, if you’re as picky about texture as I am, an immersion blender to make sure the soup is nice and smooth.  You can use whatever kind of mushrooms you like (or leave them out, if you don’t like mushrooms), and you can go to town on how you season it, too, depending on your preferences.  Like I said, this is just the version I like — ridiculously cheesy, and really, really filling.  :-)  If you want some crunch to go with it, we often make cheese crackers to either crumble on top of the soup or (if it’s thick enough) dip into the soup to eat it with!

Enough idle chitchat, really; time for some soup.

Cheese Potato Soup

Yield:  8-12 servings, depending on how hungry people are

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb potatoes
  • 5 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 cups milk
  • 2 T dried chopped chives
  • 8 oz of mushrooms, diced
  • 2 T butter to sautee with

Directions:

1.  Rinse, peel, and chop the potatoes, into half-inch cubes or so.  In a very large pot (think a stockpot), just cover the potatoes with water, lightly salt the water, and bring to a boil; simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until a fork easily slides into any given chunk of potatoes.

2.  While the potatoes are boiling, finely dice the mushrooms, then sautee them in butter in a large skillet.  Cook them on medium high heat for 6-8 minutes, or until they’ve stopped producing more liquid; strain and set aside.

3.  Once the potatoes have softened, carefully drain off about half the water in the stockpot, then add the milk.  Carefully use the potato masher to mash up the potatoes as much as you can, then just as carefully use the immersion blender to smooth out the potatoes into a pureed soup base.  I at least am very patient and thorough with these steps, seeing how I despise chunks of potato in my soup, but apparently some people prefer it that way.

4.  Add more salt, and the pepper and garlic powder; then add the butter, a stick at a time, letting the simmer melt the butter and mix it in slowly.  Then whisk in the cheese a handful at a time, letting it melt and integrate smoothly into the soup.  Taste it, and adjust the seasonings as needed.

5.  Finally, mix in the dried chives and sauteed mushrooms from before.  Soup’s on!