Potatoes are pretty perfect. My grandpa has been saying for as long as I can remember: "Did you know the potato is the only food man can actually survive on alone?" Well, he's almost right — you would need to add a pat of butter or wash it down with a glass of milk, but then you'd be good to go. So not only does this soup taste amazing, but between the potatoes, kale, porcini mushrooms, and cheese you also might just be able to call this soup perfect. It has all the major nutrients in one bowl, and it is delicious!
A Choose-Your-Own-Cheese Adventure
Between the Brie and the cheddar, Taleggio, the mild, super-melty cheese from Italy, gets forgotten — but it's one of our favorite cheeses for this soup. It's superior melty quality along with fresh, not-too-funky flavor gives this earthy potato soup a rich flavor and silky texture. But here's the thing about this soup: You can really use any melting cheese you like. Want some sharpness? A zingy white cheddar will do the trick. Or for some funk, go with Brie or Camembert. Turns out a perfect potato soup is really one made the way you like it.
Perfect Potato Soup with Crunchy Kale
For the soup:
1 medium bunch curly kale
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more as needed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
6 cloves garlic
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 1/2 cups water
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
6 ounces Taleggio cheese, cut into cubes
For the porcini oil:
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Make the soup: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F.
Strip the kale leaves from the stems (discard the stems or save for another use) and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, Parmesan, salt, and pepper and toss to coat. Using your hands, massage the kale for about 1 minute to soften.
Transfer to a baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake, tossing once or twice, until crispy, 15 to 18 minutes total. Set the baking sheet aside. Meanwhile, start the soup.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until caramelized and golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Slowly pour in the broth and water. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the porcini oil.
Make the porcini oil: Place the mushrooms and olive oil in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
Pour the oil through a fine-mesh strainer into a glass jar and discard the mushrooms; set aside.
When the potatoes are ready, remove the pot from the heat and let cool slightly. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth (alternatively, use an immersion blender to blend directly in the pot). Return the soup to the pot and add the thyme and Taleggio. Stir until the cheese is melted and heated through.
Divide the soup among 4 bowls and top with the crunchy kale. Drizzle each bowl with porcini oil.
Cheese substitute: If Taleggio is not available, try using a soft Brie or a white cheddar. You can really use any cheese you have on hand or love.
Storage: Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The porcini oil can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Reprinted with permission from Half Baked Harvest: Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains by Tieghan Gerard, copyright (c) 2017, Clarkson Potter.