I didn’t know it was possible to make potato soup that wasn’t thick as oatmeal, but I did it. For years, my husband has loved the creamy potato soup I make with bacon and scallions, topped with a sprinkling of cheddar or sometimes bleu cheese. I guess you might call it a “loaded baked potato” soup. Confession: I dread his request for that soup. I find its heaviness so unwelcome that it cancels out how good it might taste; flavorful as it really, really is, I don’t like wading through a bowl. But let’s get back to the positive news now: this is not that loaded soup. My new version of potato soup is lighter– it can almost be described as ‘brothy’– and just as delicious, maybe more so. The lightness comes from the cooking method: I essentially steam-boiled the potatoes rather than allowing them to cook down and thicken in the broth. I also took care to choose a variety that isn’t overly starchy; in this case, that was a Yukon gold, but I’ve also had luck with thin-skinned red potatoes. The soup gets a lovely smoky flavor from my current favorite ingredient, linguica, and paprika; linguica is a mildly spicy smoked sausage notable for its perfect balance of sweetness and smokiness. It reminds me of taking a bite of kielbasa and Andouille sausage at the same time and I love how it adds so much flavor to this soup. The list of ingredients is short because the linguica does so much work for you. Linguica can be found in most well-stocked groceries near the bacon and sausage; if you can’t find it, a smoked sausage or kielbasa would be a reasonable substitute. Finally, a few bits of nutty, decadent gorgonzola cheese round out the flavors and add the perfect finishing touch.
In the heart of winter, whether you’re watching another snowfall or just looking at a gray sky, a bowl of this smoky potato & linguica soup is just what you want to eat.
Smoky Potato & Linguica Soup (serves 4)
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 c. linguica, cut into small dice
- 1/3 c. diced sweet onion
- 1 lb. Yukon gold or red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ dice
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika (or use ‘plain’ paprika if you don’t have smoked)
- 4 c. good quality chicken broth
- 1/4 c. cream
- salt & pepper to taste
- crumbled gorgonzola to garnish, about 2 oz. total
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the linguica and cook until it begins to brown and release its oil, about 4-6 mins. Using a slotted spoon, remove the linguica from the pan to a small plate or bowl. You should have about 1 T. of oil left in the bottom of your pan; if you have more, pour it off. If you have less than 1 T., add more olive oil to compensate.
Add the onions to the still warm oil and cook for about 5 mins., stirring once or twice, until they soften and start to become opaque. Add the diced potatoes and paprika to the onions and mix well to coat the potatoes. Cook for 3-5 mins. without stirring. Add about 1/2 c. of broth (estimate, no need to measure) to the potatoes and use a wooden spoon to scrape all the good flavorful bits from the linguica and seasoned potatoes from the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the broth and bring the soup to a slow boil. Now, here is the key: reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Cook for 25 mins.; check the potatoes for doneness by mashing one or two against the side of the pot. They will mash easily, with little pressure, when they’re cooked.
When the potatoes are done, remove the pot from the heat and add the cream. Use an immersion blender to carefully blend the soup; use short, pulsing bursts to avoid an unpleasant, gluey consistency. I don’t recommend using a blender or food processor because the consistency can go wrong so quickly. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a potato masher and call your soup rustic.
Once the soup is blended, add a few good cracks of black pepper and a pinch of salt. Be judicious with salt, since the linguica and gorgonzola will introduce some saltiness to the mix. Reheat on a low burner if necessary, then ladle into bowls and garnish with cooked linguica and crumbled gorgonzola, to taste. Serve immediately. This soup is also surprisingly good cold, if you’d like to try something different.