Savannah-Style Irish Potato Soup — Down-Home Comfort

Savannah-Style Irish Potato Soup

Savannah-Style Irish Potato Soup

Photo by: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Baked or boiled, simmered or stewed, potatoes are the ultimate in down-home comfort. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that potatoes are often paired with creamy butter, gooey cheese or crispy bacon.) There’s actually a biological reason behind us wanting to feast on spuds. Our body’s favorite fuel is carbohydrates and potatoes are loaded with carbs. When we’re blue or feeling poorly, our bodies yearn for our favorite fuel. Once eaten, carbohydrates break down into smaller sugars that are absorbed and used as energy, fueling muscle contractions. Any extra eventually gets stored in the body as fat.

There are three basic categories of potatoes: starchy, all-purpose and waxy. Starchy potatoes are great for baking and frying. Because of their starch, they don't hold together very well when cooked otherwise. They have a light, mealy texture and are fluffy and absorbent, perfect for a baked potato, mashed potatoes and french fries. Examples of starchy potatoes include russet and Idaho. I use starchy russets in this soup because I want the potatoes to fall apart. The “Irish” in this soup’s name refers to the large Irish population in Savannah, not the type of potato.

Savannah-Style Irish Potato Soup

Savannah-Style Irish Potato Soup

Photo by: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Virginia Willis, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

All-purpose potatoes include Yukon golds and purple Peruvians. They do a good job holding their shape, but share many traits in common with high-starch potatoes. Waxy potatoes are best for salads, as they hold their shape while cooking. They also work well in dishes like soups or stews when you want cubed potatoes, and for scalloped potatoes, where you would need to boil, slice and roast them. Examples of these types of potatoes include red bliss, Irish and fingerling.

I’ve left the bacon out of this soup to highlight the flavor of the potatoes. If you want to garnish with bacon, chop 4 pieces and cook until they’re crisp and the fat is rendered, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the bacon to a plate to cool. Pour off most of the fat, leaving just a bit in the pot, and saute the vegetables in the bacon fat instead of canola oil. Either way, you’re certain to enjoy a steaming hot bowl of this classic potato soup.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y'all , among others. Follow her continuing exploits at VirginiaWillis.com.

Keep Reading

Next Up

5 Obligatory Irish Foods You Should Be Eating on St. Patrick's Day

Even if decking yourself in green on St. Patrick's Day isn't your thing, odds are you can get down with some traditional Irish foods.

Eat Like You're Irish: Restaurants for St. Patrick's Day

Your string of luck continues with these places that serve dishes with an Irish twist.

Katie's Healthy Bites: An Irish-Inspired Salmon & Potato Dinner

When March comes around, I'm always searching for creative ways to celebrate St. Paddy's that don't involve high-calorie indulgences. This year, I'm trying a Guinness-glazed salmon recipe that works for any meal but, when paired with kale-laced mashed potatoes, is perfect for St. Paddy's Day.

Weekly Bits: Irish Feasting

St. Patrick's Day might be over for the year, but you don't have to give up your favorite Irish-inspired recipes! Find new ways to enjoy cabbage and potatoes for less fat and calories with ideas from our readers.

7 Irish-Inspired Desserts to Make for St. Patrick’s Day

Incorporate Irish tradition and folklore into your St. Patrick’s Day diet with Food Network recipes inspired by shamrocks, leprechauns and a pint of Guinness.

Down-Home Comfort: Collard Greens and Cornbread for New Year's Day

Get your year off to the right start with this recipe for Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey and Whole Grain Cornbread.

Chocolate Meringue Pie — Down-Home Comfort

Some folks like sweets, some folks like chocolate. The chocolate meringue pie is the best of both worlds. Try this on your sweetie for some down-home comfort.

Tailgate Chili — Down-Home Comfort

I think the perfect tailgate food just might be chili. The one thing that can be agreed upon is that anyone who loves making chili thinks that theirs is the greatest. Well, that and that their team is the best.

Down-Home Comfort — Fresh Easter Ham with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Fresh ham is nothing like the boozy bourbon-soaked and smoked holiday ham or the candy-sweet spiral wonder.

A Duo of Southern Dips — Down-Home Comfort

Game-day goodies deserve a dose of down-home comfort, too, and this duo of dips is certain to score with your home team. I’m sharing two favorite Southern dips — Pimento Cheese and Warm Crab Dip.