A filling Irish potato soup, making soup can hardly get any easier or cheaper. This traditional recipe uses just a handful of ingredients like potatoes, leeks, and milk, yet the result is rich, creamy, and completely satisfying.
Make this super simple and delicious Irish potato soup with leeks, it's perfect not only for celebrating St. Patrick's Day but for any day of the year and especially during the cold winter months. This easy potato soup is one of those great recipes that you can make any time with just a few pantry and freezer ingredients.
Ireland and potatoes
Ireland and potatoes. Even if you don't know much about the country, you probably think of potatoes when you think about Ireland. And Irish potato soup is probably the most cooked potato dish in Ireland... Together with the Colcannon, I suppose, I think I've seen even more recipes for the Irish potato and cabbage dish than I've seen for potato soups.
The potato was introduced to Ireland sometime during the 16th century, and its cultivation spread quickly. Potatoes soon became a staple food for the rural population in Ireland.
Fun fact: they were not very popular from the very beginning, one reason for it being that the clerics considered they come from the devil! The reasoning behind it was that they grew underground.
The potato is also the main reason why people with Irish origins are so widely spread all over the world, especially in North America. The Great Potato Famine, which lasted for 3 years during the 1840s, caused the death of millions of people and the emigration of some more million.
- A traditional Irish potato soup is made with simple ingredients: potatoes, onions, milk or heavy cream, stock, salt, and black pepper.
- However, a super common addition is the leek. Leeks and potatoes are often paired in Irish recipes; they both grow easily there, they are cheap, and they taste delicious when combined. I strongly recommend using the leeks; they elevate a regular potato soup to a new level, and you will not want to miss their sweetness, the extra flavor.
- And if you like leeks as much as I do, try these amazing Roasted Leeks.
- Other needed ingredients are vegetable or chicken stock, onions, garlic, butter, milk or cream (or a mixture of both), salt, and pepper. I added a little nutmeg as well, not traditional, but a spice I almost always add when making mashed potatoes or creamy potato soups. However, it is optional.
What are the best potatoes to use for soup?
- Ideally, you will use a mealy potato sort to make a creamy, pureed soup, something like Russet or Idaho.
- You could also use all-purpose, which has a medium starch content, somewhere in between starchy and waxy potatoes, for instance, Yukon Gold.
- Whatever you do, don't use a waxy sort; they are great for salads and many other dishes but not so great for making soup.
How to make Irish potato soup?
Prepare the vegetables:
- Finely chop the onion and the garlic.
- Peel and chop the potatoes.
- Clean and chop the leeks. Read this article if you want to learn more about how to clean leeks properly.
- Melt butter and saute onion on medium heat for a few minutes.
- Add the garlic, potatoes, and leeks and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are softer.
- Add the vegetable or chicken stock and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are really soft.
- Blend, add the milk and the cream, some freshly grated nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
- Creamy potato soup
- Blend it completely with an immersion blender or in a food processor or blender.
- If using a food processor or blender, puree in batches, and remember that it is very hot.
- Don't turn the processor to its highest level from the beginning, do that gradually to avoid splatterings all over the place (or worse, on your hands). The built-up steam can sometimes even blow the lid off the food processor or blender.
- I always place a kitchen towel on top of the food processor to avoid any drops messing up the kitchen walls.
- Don't over-blend a potato soup or it might turn gluey, which is really not nice.
- Chunky soup: You can also leave the potato leek soup as it is (not blended – love it – more to chew) or mash it only partially with a potato masher.
- Richer soup: replace the milk with more heavy cream.
Place all the prepared ingredients, except milk and cream, in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours or until the potatoes are completely tender and cooked through. Blend as instructed, add milk or cream, and season.
You can easily make this recipe vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock or vegan by replacing the butter, milk, and cream with vegan alternatives.
The Irish potato soup keeps well in the fridge for about 3 days. It tastes even better the next day when reheated.
I don't recommend freezing this rustic soup; frozen and defrosted potato dishes are not good, but at least I don't like them at all.
How to serve?
- Top with finely chopped fresh chives, grated Cheddar cheese, or crispy bacon pieces. This is how I had the Irish potato leek soup for the first time in a little pub in London. Delicious!
- Serve with crusty bread, ideally Easy Yogurt Soda Bread or Irish Guinness Brown Bread.
- A pint of Guinness or a regular beer, and you will need nothing else, a true Irish comfort meal at its best!
More St. Patrick's Day Recipes
Irish Potato Soup Recipe
- 750 g/ 26.5 oz potatoes See note
- 2 large leeks about 350 g/ 12.4 oz
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 onion
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1,5 liter/ 51 fl.oz/ 6 ⅓ cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 75 ml/ 2.5 fl.oz/ ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 75 ml/ 2.5 fl.oz/ ⅓ cup milk
- a few gratings of nutmeg optional
- fine sea salt and black pepper
- chives to garnish
- Peel and chop the potatoes, clean and chop the leeks. Finely chop the garlic. Set aside.
- Chop the onions, set aside separately.
- Melt the butter in a soup pot. Cook the onions for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, and leeks, stir well and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are softer.
- Add the stock, cover, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are perfectly soft.
- Blend the soup with an immersion blender or in a food processor or blender. In this case, blend in batches and follow the safety instructions mentioned above. Do not over-blend the potato and leek soup or it will turn gluey. You can also blend it only partially with a potato masher or leave it as it is.
- Add the milk and the cream and reheat. Adjust the taste with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with finely chopped chives. Serve as suggested above.