Healthy Comfort Food: Creamy Potato Soup

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Healthy Comfort Food: Creamy Potato Soup

Healthy eaters often steer away from potatoes, writing the tuber off as a carb-loaded food with minimal nutritional content. Perhaps it’s people’s association with their guilty pleasures (French fries - try this homemade fries recipe, hash browns, potato salad and chips) that give them such a bad rap, but plain old spuds are a wholesome source of good carbohydrates and pack plenty of nutritional benefits. 



Like sweet potatoes, regular potatoes are relatively low in calories (about 100 calories for a small spud). They are also loaded with potassium and iron, and are a good source of fiber, especially when eaten with the skins on. In this recipe, we’ve peeled the potatoes to ensure a smooth and creamy texture to the soup, but you could certainly leave the skins on for a more rustic version of the dish. If you do leave the skins on, make sure to give them a good scrub and cut out any blemishes. If possible, seek out organic or locally grown potato varieties, as these may be less likely to have been sprayed with potentially harmful chemicals. 

As mentioned, this recipe is super smooth and creamy, yet that doesn't mean it is unhealthy. Thanks to starchy potatoes and a strong flavor base of mixed vegetables and spices, this soup doesn’t need a ton of fat to achieve the comfort food checkmark. 

Another favorite comfort soup: Protein-Packed Vegan Chili 

Because of this, we’ve used just a little bit of whole milk at the end of cooking instead of the usual heavy cream. Still incorporate some delicious savory meat into the dish, such as bacon, which pairs wonderfully with potatoes. You don’t need to use very much bacon to obtain great flavor. In fact, we’ve used just three strips for the whole pot of soup. If you want to cut down on that small amount of bacon fat (as well as cooking time and clean up), you can cook the bacon strips between paper towels in the microwave, break it into pieces and add it to the soup. If you prefer smoked ham in your potato soup instead of bacon, simply swap in some cubed ham before serving.

Play around with this recipe, adding a different mix of fresh herbs at the end, or a can of white beans mixed in with the potatoes. No matter how you cook it up, remember that healthy eating is about moderation, variety, and quality ingredients, so there is no need to skip out on your favorite indulgences and comfort food classics. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced 
3 ribs celery, diced 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon paprika 
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes 
5 cups water
1 bay leaf 
3 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup full fat milk

In a large stockpot over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add onion, celery, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper and sauté until vegetables soften and become slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, bay leaf and water. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer until potatoes are cooked through (an inserted fork should go into potatoes easily), about 30 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. 

Using an immersion blender working in batches with a food processor, blend soup until smooth. Return soup to low heat and continue to cook another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium heat, cook bacon until just crispy. 

Stir bacon and milk into soup, and cook until heated through, another 5-10 minutes. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with fresh herbs such as tarragon, parsley or chives.  

Serves 6 (or makes for awesome leftovers!)