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

7 Recipes That Prove Corned Beef Is Great in Everything

It's way more versatile than that green beer you're sipping.

Mint Green Tea Spritzer

For a refreshing and festive non-alcoholic St. Paddy’s day beverage, try this cooling mint green tea spritzer.

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.

Milk Gets Its Green On for St. Patrick's Day

Nothing says St. Patrick’s Day better than green, mint-flavored milk, which is likely the idea behind TruMoo’s bright-hued Naturally Flavored Mint Vanilla milk.

POLL: What's Your Favorite Bite of St. Patrick's Day?

From meaty corned beef and cabbage to comforting shepherd's pie and bright-green beer, FN Dish wants to know: What's your favorite bite or sip of St. Patrick's Day?

How to Make Your Own Corned Beef for St. Patrick's Day

Food Network teaches you how to make corned beef at home for St. Patrick's Day.

Feed Your Crowd Before Hitting the Town — St. Patrick's Day Entertaining

St. Patrick’s Day is simply about food, drinks and having a good time. This year I’m making a few of my favorite green-ish appetizers and then several main course options. Get the recipes now.