What’s for dinner: Wednesday Night Cream of Potato Soup
My daughter Olivia is obsessed with three things in life: Harry Potter, anything to do with the Titanic and Eat’n Park’s Cream of Potato Soup … and not necessarily in that order. Every Sunday and Wednesday — Potato!Soup!Day!, as it’s known in Livvy Land — the drumbeat starts about an hour before dinner: “Don’t you feel like potato soup, Mom?” “Boy, wouldn’t some potato soup taste good right now?” “Hey, you know what day it is, right?”
A day to find a good recipe I can approximate at home, that’s what.
Naturally, I went right to the source. But you know how these things go. Both Chef Regis Holden and Kevin O’Connell, senior VP of marketing, declined — very politely — to share the recipe for it, which is made fresh several times a day when it’s on the menu, and is Eat’n Park’s most popular soup, selling twice the amount as the other varieties.
“It’s like the Smiley Cookie and Super Burger. A phenomenon,” said Mr. O’Connell. “People plan their week around it.”
At least Chef Holden graciously shared some thoughts on what makes the restaurant’s Cream of Potato Soup so darn great, so I could come up with a recipe on my own: Start with a chicken-based broth, thicken the soup with a liaison made from roux and hot cream, and use a “good starchy potato, like a russet,” he advised. He also spilled the beans on the soup’s “secret” ingredient: Bacon.
Here’s my version of their popular masterpiece, just in time for your St. Patty’s Day celebration.
Wednesday Night Cream of Potato Soup
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- 5 cups chopped peeled potatoes
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 4 slices crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until butter melts. Add onion, celery and carrot; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add parsley; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Stir in potatoes. Add water and broth; bring to a lively simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain simmer and cook until very tender, about 15 minutes. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender, until smooth.
In a separate saucepan, make a roux by melting remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add flour, and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, just until flour has lost its raw smell, about 5 minutes. Warm half and half until hot in the microwave and then slowly add a little into the hot roux, whisking until smooth. Add roux to remaining hot cream, whisk to combine, and then stir mixture into the simmering soup. Stir in crumbled bacon bits, and season with salt and pepper.
Simmer soup for an additional 10 to 20 minutes, to allow the flour to soften and absorb the liquid. (If the simmering time is too short, the flour in the roux will remain grainy.)
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
— Adapted from “The Simple Art of Eating Well Cookbook” by Jessie Price and the EATINGWELL Test Kitchen (Countryman, $35)