Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Being of Irish descent, I have many family recipes I could share with you. Vegan Irish Stew. Sheepless Shepherd’s Pie. Colcannon. More recipes for cabbage and turnips than most people have ever dreamed existed.
But what I’m sharing today is one of the most simple – and satisfying. Irish Potato Soup.
It’s simple – only a few ingredients, all of which you probably have in your pantry. It’s easy – if you can chop a few veggies and throw things in a pot, you can do it! It’s fast – maybe 10 minutes of peel/chop time, then 20 minutes of mostly hands-off cooking time. It’s really inexpensive. It’s healthy – unlike American potato soups which are “loaded” with cream, butter, sour cream, one or more cheeses, and bacon. Best of all, it’s really delicious and comforting – a great soup for a cold day.
Mama would make this for me when I was sick. My Great Aunt Martha used to make this “for a quick lunch.” I ate this soup so much growing up, that when I first went veg eons ago and started compiling my recipes into a cookbook, this was the very first one I added.
Ingredients for Vegan Irish Potato Soup:
4 Russet Potatoes, peeled and chopped in cubes
1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
3 Carrots, sliced into coins – or an equivalent amount of baby carrots (a large handful), sliced into coins
1 Large Stalk Celery, sliced OR 1 Teaspoon Celery Salt
2 1/2 Cups Water
1-2 Cups Soymilk (unsweetened, unflavored)
1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
1+ Teaspoons Earth Balance
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Fresh Parsley, for garnish (optional)
Fresh Chives, for garnish (optional)
Directions for Vegan Irish Potato Soup
Peel and chop the potatoes in cubes of roughly equal size (this helps them to cook evenly). Add to a large soup or stock pot.
Add the chopped onion and sliced carrots. Add the celery, or, if you don’t have any on hand, 1 teaspoon celery salt.
Add 2 1/2 cups water.
Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 20 minutes, press a potato against the side of the pot with a spoon to see if is soft and mashes easily. If so, turn off heat and wait for the pot to stop simmering. Mash the mixture with a potato masher so there are no big potato chunks, but the mixture still has some texture.
Add the dried parsley. Add Earth Balance. (I use a teaspoon, but you may wish to use more – especially if you are a recent vegan, or will be sharing this with omnivores who are accustomed to eating potato soups with a higher fat content.)
Add 1 cup milk.
Stir gently. Turn the burner back on and warm the soup over low to medium heat, until it is hot again. Do not let it return to a full boil.
Depending on the size of your potatoes, you may need to add a little more milk to reach the consistency you want.
Add salt to taste (about a teaspoon; if you used celery salt you may not need any additional salt). Add a good grind of black pepper.
Ladle into bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley or chopped chives, if desired.
Notes on Vegan Irish Potato Soup
I like using a handful or two of sliced baby carrots instead of the regular, long carrots. Baby carrots are a little sweeter and give a delightful orange polka-dot look to the soup.
Celery Salt is a great spice to keep on hand. It tastes almost more like celery than celery! You can use it to replace celery in many recipes – including this one. (In fact I think I prefer celery salt to celery in this recipe.) I don’t always keep celery in my fridge, so having a jar of celery salt saves me time and money.
Use water and soy milk, NOT vegetable broth. Vegetable broth can impart strange flavors to the soup.
I recommend parsley or chives if you want to garnish your soup (although garnish is not needed; it just looks lovely – especially for St. Patrick’s day!) This would also be the more traditional Irish way to garnish your soup. Of course, if you want you could also add vegan cheese shreds, vegan sour cream or yogurt, Bac-Os … you’re the one who’s going to be eating this soup, so do what makes you happy! However, having grown up on simple Irish potato soup, I always felt the cheese, cream, sour cream, bacon, etc. served to mask the taste of the potatoes rather than enhance them. If you feel it needs “a little more,” try adding a little more Earth Balance. A vegan diet is usually much, much lower in fat than a vegetarian or omnivore diet – often, when you think you’re missing cheese or meat, you may really be missing fat.
General Warning To Gluten-Free People: Although this soup is gluten-free, many potato soup recipes (and canned/boxed potato soups) have flour (unnecessarily) added as a thickener! Just one more place to watch for hidden gluten!