It’s the last week of our two month grocery shopping hiatus and honestly all I want to eat are lemons. Big, juicy, cleansing, bright lemons from far, far away.

We’re not eating lemons, though, we’re eating soup. Today I bring you the epitome of frugal, simple food. It’s not brightly colored, brightly flavored, or very photogenic. But it will feed your family for a couple of bucks and take you about 20 minutes to make.

There was a time when I thought food had to be complicated to taste good. Yummy food usually came out of a wrapper of some sort, sprinkled with some sort of fairy tasty dust that you couldn’t possibly replicate at home, right?

This was especially true of soups. Granted what made soups delicious then was probably the MSG and other flavor enhancers that you would never see labeled in a pretty glass jar in your pantry. But that soup always tasted impossibly good. I just couldn’t imagine making it at home.

And then I stopped eating MSG, and packaged anything, and began cooking with foods that don’t have labels. And I began needing less from the grocery store, and started to believe that maybe, just maybe we have been duped.

An entire pot of potato-onion soup that tastes better than anything out of a container (or restaurant) can cost less than $2 and feed 5-6 people. It’s funny how corporations and restaurants don’t add that to the label.

Simple food like this won’t make a corporation rich, but it will feed your family cheaply and easily. And you may even be surprised at how something so very simple can be so very tasty.

Potato-Onion Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 medium onions, diced
  • 8-10 large potatoes, cut into 1/4" dice
  • 6-8 cups of stock or water
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • raw or cultured cream for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add butter. Once butter starts to melt add diced onions and a pinch of sea salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.
  2. Add potatoes to the pot, pour over stock or water until just covered, and season with thyme, sea salt, and pepper. Turn heat up to medium and bring to a simmer. Cover pot, turn heat back down to low, and simmer approximately 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Remove from heat and blend if desired. I like to just mash it a bit and leave the texture somewhat rustic. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Serve bowls with a drizzle of raw or cultured cream and enjoy.
 

22 Responses to Potato-Onion Soup

  1. Colleen says:

    Do you recommend any specific type of potato?

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    Colleen – I like red-skinned and yukon gold type potatoes, simply because they are a bit less starchy. Not that potatoes aren’t lovely because of their starch, obviously. But I have read that these two have a bit less impact on your blood sugar.

    [Reply]

  2. El says:

    How funny, Shannon: we ate potato/onion soup last night!!! with lots of fresh bread. It is great good cheap eating, very fast, very good for you too.

    And yeah, lemons, sigh. Maybe someday you can grow some sorrel under cover. It’s not quite the same thing as cutting into a juicy puckery lemon but lightly heated or raw it scratches that itch, locally.

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    El – Sorrel is great, especially since it’s free in my backyard. And it really is shocking how much it tastes like lemon. Great in a brothy soup!

    [Reply]

  3. I used to make this soup all the time . . . but stopped because I was concerned about it being too heavy in carbs and not enough protein. What are your thoughts on that?

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    Elizabeth – Yes, it is a bit too heavy in carbs for me personally so I add a bit of protein and eat less of it. The suggestion in the comments about topping with bacon (and cheese) would be great additions.

    [Reply]

  4. Brandis says:

    I’m glad you brought lemons up, because it reminded me of something I wanted to ask your opinion of. I know you really value eating local, and it’s something I’ve been working on myself. I also know that many locavores not only feel that eating local is important to protect the environment, but that eating what you can find locally and in season is how we were meant to eat and is better for our health.

    So my question is this- if I were able to buy and keep (and keep alive) a lemon tree in my house, does this violate this tenet? I mean, because it’s not a local crop, even though they are grown locally? Mostly I’m curious about ANYONE’s opinion on this as locavores, so anyone feel free to chime in.

    PS I think that soup looks lovely. I love soup, and the way you’re craving lemons right now is how I crave creamy, hot onion potato soup in the summer. Sure, I could make soup then, but my family would throw things at me and I would regret eating it because eating soup makes me hot.

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    Brandis – My overall philosophy is grow as much food as you can. So grow lemons in Minnesota and avocados in Missouri if you can. I try not to be too technical and would simply like to see people moving towards an agrarian society rather than the industrial one we have today. If I can grow lemons, avocados, grapefruits, and kiwis someday I will :) .

    [Reply]

  5. Sheila says:

    If you raise your own lemon tree, I think that’s totally local! It might not be a local crop normally, but you’re not paying for all the transportation of bringing lemons from a far corner of the country, and you know the farmer (yourself) so you know what goes into them. I have no idea how to grow lemons indoors, but I have heard it does work, so more power to you if you can make it work.

    I’ve got to try this soup; it sounds delicious and I know onions are really good for you. And you know what would give this a bit more fat and protein? A garnish of bacon.

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    Sheila – Bacon would be great, as would some sharp cheddar cheese. Unfortunately we were out of both ingredients so we kept it simple. But I am thinking that with them you’d have something like a baked potato soup. Yum.

    [Reply]

  6. Dani says:

    Bless you Shannon–I just read that you’re out of bacon and cheese… didn’t you say that bacon was one of the first things you ran out of? I, too, would need some meat of some sort, as would my family, if this were to tide us over to the next meal. You are so right about how much more frugal it is-and really not that hard! to prepare such things as yummy soups, rather than stuff from a package. I am constantly amazed at how much lower our food and grocery bill is than it used to be, back when we were buying packaged stuff.
    Oh, and for the record? If you think that stuff isn’t photogenic, then please explain your reasoning to my watering mouth… YUM!

    [Reply]

  7. Rachel says:

    Funny! I made potato soup last night, too. Very similar recipe, except less onions because someone in our house is very particular about that, and after sauteing the onions in the butter I put a deheaded bulb of garlic (similar to if you were going to roast it) and some bay leaves in with homemade beef and vegetable broths. That simmered while I peeled and chopped potatoes and helped out with some homework. We did add cheese and whole milk, for the dairy eaters, and bacon which gave it some nice depth. A great way to use up all those potatoes sprouting in my pantry.

    [Reply]

  8. Christina says:

    We love potato soup like this. Last time I made it, I used less broth so it made a thick creamy mashed potato. Then I put it on a plate and topped it with some beef stew. It made the meat last longer, but gave some protein to the meal. My family loved it!

    [Reply]

  9. Amanda says:

    Yum! We made a big pot of this on Sunday night and I’ve been eating left overs all week! Also made a quick loaf of Irish soda bread with oats and caraway to go with it. Seems we were all thinking alike this cold, wintery week! I added some very sweet corn I preserved way back in July- I love the subtle sweetness and thickness it adds to the soup once I whiz the immersion blender through it all. I also add some gorgonzola or belu cheese sprinkled on potato soup. The kids prefer sharp cheddar.
    Your blog always makes me hungry. :)

    [Reply]

  10. ValerieH says:

    There’s an old Mennonite soup called Butter Suppe. It is potatoes boiled with onions, bay leaf and peppercorns. When the soup is done add butter or cream for richness. My mom used to also put in dumplings with a batter made mostly with water and flour. She never mashed the potatoes into it.
    It is way too carb-y for me but it is cheap eats for the winter.

    [Reply]

  11. Cindy says:

    Thanks so much for the great pantry idea. I think I’m going to make this next week. And I love the idea of adding bacon and cheese — it might make my kids a bity more interested. We’ve been gently changing how we eat, and I’m finding it’s really important to have a “winner” on the table with the meal. Bacon is ALWAYS a winner in our house.

    [Reply]

  12. Darren says:

    I’m making this right now as I type! The bonus is that I grow thyme in pots in the garden. Saving money and being frugal is always something I strive for!

    [Reply]

  13. Linda S. Sherman says:

    I added mushrooms, carrots and broccoli to lighten up the carb content.

    [Reply]

  14. Pat Bradley says:

    Can I use heavy cream for the garnish? Thanks for the recipe–can’t wait to make it!

    [Reply]

  15. prkrcynth says:

    Our family’s potato soup is quite similar. Our twist is to add heavy cream or canned milk we traditionally use AND a particular favorite twist is to add a can or two of bookbinder’s oyster stew. The actual oyster content has shrunk a bit over the years, our solution is to add a can or two more of oysters. You get a salty kick and don’t need to add more salt, though extra pepper helps.

    [Reply]

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