Soup Season Part 1: Potato Soup with Peas and Cheese

Soup season has started early in Bozeman with this past weekend’s early snow and frigid temperatures. This winter is expected to be especially harsh and with the terrible economy soup is a warm, comforting and inexpensive dinner choice. I’m starting soup season off with my tried and true potato soup.

I can’t give you exact measurements for ingredients here because I haven’t measured them for about twelve years. The amount of vegetables should just look right to you. If you’re a moderately skilled cook you’ll know the right amounts. I will, however, update the recipe with exacts next time I make it.

I started making this soup when I was sixteen and, in my experience, it is everyone’s favorite. Boyfriend after boyfriend has enthusiastically devoured bowl after bowl. I usually eat so much of it I can barely move. The recipe, as I found it in a magazine, did not have peas or cheese and it included some kind of meat, most likely ham. I was a vegetarian at the time (on a bet) and always left out the meat. The peas and cheese are recent additions to the recipe and if you do like meat then about a cup of cubed ham is a nice addition.

5 Medium Potatoes, Cubed
2 Small Carrots, Chopped
2 Small Celery Ribs, Chopped
1/2 Small Onion, Chopped
1/4 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Flour
2 Cups Milk 
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Cup Frozen Peas
Salt and Pepper

 In a large soup pot, add water to the potatoes until they are just covered. Salt and pepper the water. Start the potatoes on a high burner and Chop the rest of the vegetables. I usually give the potatoes a couple of minutes head start on the carrots and celery and then add the onions last. This way none of the vegetables get cooked to mush. You want to cook the vegetables until they are soft, but still retain their shapes.

Once all the vegetables are nearly done cooking start a cheese sauce in a medium sauce pan. Melt the butter over medium-high heat. Mix in the flour and then gradually add the milk while whisking to avoid lumps. Add the cheese to this mixture and gently boil it until it is smooth and thickened. It doesn’t take long and it’s a huge mess if it burns to the bottom of the pan, so watch out!

Incorporate the cheese sauce into the undrained vegetables and add the peas. Let the soup gently boil a few more minutes so the peas get cooked.

This makes about four large servings. 

Serve with bread on a cold day… Although I’ve enjoyed it very much on hot days too!

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