As much as I was on the road through December, it’s a wonder I did anything other than drive and visit. But, as the close of 2019 neared, I’d not only managed several visits to relatives but also hosted a couple of combination Hanukkah/Christmas overnights with our former foster kids and with our grown children, tackled several charcuterie boards and challah loaves, baked hundreds of cookies and dozens of cupcakes, and prepared a simple Christmas meal. Don’t get me wrong … I loved every minute, but I wore myself out … to the point of a debilitating headache that required eventual administration of mashed potatoes. I don’t know why they help me recover, but I’m so glad they do!
If you’ve been following my blog, you know potatoes—especially mashed potatoes—are my comfort food. From Thanksgiving through December, potatoes figure into many a family meal … mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, potato-laden latkes for Hanukkah, sweet potato dishes … and leftover potatoes. It’s a potato lover’s heaven, but even a die-hard potato fan like me can become bored. So, I decided to do something with some leftovers besides eat them as originally prepared … and came up with a recipe I call Baked Potato Soup for reasons that will become obvious as you read on.
This soup worked as well as mashed potatoes as I recovered from the headache that put me days behind on all my plans … and sadly kept me and 26 green velvet cupcakes from a holiday party. The cupcakes later made a trip to Florida—still naked—where my sister-in-law and I winged a cream cheese icing that topped those cupcakes nicely. Yum!
But I digress. Chicken soup may be good for the soul and countless maladies, but Baked Potato Soup is a great way to overcome mashed potato malaise. You can use leftover mashed potatoes or scale up instant mashed potatoes. I prefer Idahoan mashed potato mix, but this soup worked out even with a dollar store brand of instant mashed potato flakes. If you have leftover or instant mashed potatoes on hand, this soup is very quick and easy to make.
In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that buttermilk has fewer calories than whole milk, is packed with nutrition and makes things extra creamy. With potato soup, buttermilk’s flavor is more prominent, complemented by a light blend of seasonings. It tastes rather like a baked potato topped with sour cream, thus the name. To make the soup extra creamy, make your mashed potatoes using buttermilk instead of dairy milk, too. Either way, the soup will be delicious.
I tested one version with a dollar store brand instant mashed potatoes and another with a scratch-made mash using skin-on golden potatoes. I simply followed the instant mashed potato directions for the first test, substituting milk with buttermilk. For the golden potatoes, I boiled them until done then mashed them with just enough buttermilk, about a 1/4 to 1/3 cup, and no other ingredients. I beat them to mostly a creamy smooth with a few chunks for interest. Both versions work, but the scratch mashed potatoes version tasted best.
Substitute chicken broth with vegetable broth, and you’ve got a vegetarian dish. I did not test any dairy substitutions, but you could try a plain nut milk instead of buttermilk and add some xanthan gum to thicken the soup. If you reduce the salt and the rest of the ingredients you use are low sodium, you’ve got a low sodium dish.
This was great with shredded cheddar and chives sprinkled on it. Bacon bits (even fake bacon bits) would be a nice addition.
“You can boil them, too, … Or mash them with milk. Or fry them. Or chop them up and put them in a soup. A very versatile vegetable, the potato.”
— Diana Gabaldone
3 C mashed potatoes made with buttermilk (instant or scratch)
2 C buttermilk
1 C chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
shredded cheddar cheese
bacon (or fake bacon) pieces
Prep time: about 15 minutes not including prep time for mashed potatoes
Yields: about 5 cups
Stir together all ingredients in a pot.
Heat on medium until heated though, stirring occasionally.
The soup should have a creamy consistency. Add milk if the soup is too thick for your taste, but avoid making it too soupy.
Serve warm with or without a topping.
Serve with a sandwich, salad, or vegetables as a small meal; as a side for an entrée, or use as an appetizer.