Herbs add an unexpected twist to this potato soup.
Usher in soup season with this potato and parsley packed stew. Credit: Courtesy of Sandy Oliver

Among the green stuff still in the garden right now, parsley reigns fit for using abundantly. And now, too, we have freshly dug potatoes. A favorite combination of these two results in parsley potato soup, the recipe for which long-ago friend Pat Arrow shared with me.

As always, I made a double batch so that I could put some in the freezer for a fast supper or lunch in the weeks ahead. I find that it does not take appreciably more time to cook twice as much, so I figure I am saving a little on energy, too. If you are good at handling a microwave, you might find a way to do it in that and save even more energy.

My favorite parsley is the flat-leaf Italian style. You will need a big bunch. A nice all-purpose potato works best for this soup, not too waxy. I don’t use reds for this. There are no exotic ingredients in it, even the Worcestershire sauce and curry can be left out and the soup will still taste good.

Consider the recipe a soup base for lots of variations. You can make it into a vegetarian soup by using water or vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. You can add broccoli, cauliflower or whirl up cooked chard or spinach in the blender to add.

You can make it meaty by using a meat broth plus a nice smokey or a very spicy sausage or ham. Cheddar cheese is a wonderful addition. If you have leeks, you can use them instead of, or in addition, to the onion. Feel free to cut loose with this. Scour your fridge for flavorful bits and pieces to add.

I used chicken broth as the recipe suggested. Yogurt, cottage cheese, a dollop of sour cream or ricotta — or actually any soft cheese — works as well. I’ve used evaporated milk. You can even leave out the milk products altogether and still have a good soup.

If you like a creamy soup, puree the potato mix in a blender or processor. (You know that if you put it in hot, it will burst up violently, so be sure to let it cool a bit.) Or use a stick blender. Around our house, we like things a little lumpy so I just used a masher on it, and blended a couple cups only.

Double the recipe and freeze some for when you need a quick meal. I freeze it before I add the milk or cheese.

Toast baguette rounds brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with a little salt or topped with a little Parmesan cheese, then float them on the soup. That dresses it up a bit. Add salad and more crusty bread for a tasty and inexpensive meal.

Parsley Potato Soup

Yields a half gallon of soup.

4 medium potatoes, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)

1 1/4 cups water

2 packed cups parsley, picked off the stems

3 cups of chicken broth

1 cup of yogurt, soft cheese, milk, cream or sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook together everything, except the parsley and the broth until the potatoes are very tender.

Mash it well or let cool and put it into a blender or food processor to puree into a creamy soup.

Puree the parsley and broth in a blender until you have a green sauce, and then add it to the potato mixture. If you plan to freeze some, do so now.

Just before serving, add yogurt, soft cheese, milk or cream, reheat without boiling, taste and adjust seasonings.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...