You took the time to choose the best potatoes in the grocery store. You did everything your grandmother’s recipe said. Yet your potato soup came out tasting and feeling like glue. What happened?
I’ve been cooking at home for more or less 20 years and, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that cooking is a productive process. If you get one step wrong along the way, most of the time the whole final result comes out wrong. The trick, you see, to making tasty food at home is in knowing what to watch out for.
If you’re reading this blog post, it’s most probably because you made potato soup — and it turned out thick and gluey.
Keep on reading as I’m going to share my best advice for how to make perfect creamy and chunky potato soup every single time.
Potato soup can come out like glue if you use the wrong potato variety and blend them too much. To make the best potato soups and stews, use waxy potatoes (like white potatoes, red potatoes, or Yukon golds) and blend only ½ to ⅓ of the potatoes, leaving the rest intact.
Use Waxy Potatoes for Soups and Stews
When making potato soup, you want your soup to be creamy but not gluey. It all starts with the potatoes themselves. The potato variety you choose to make the soup can make a bigger difference than you think.
There are more than 4,000 potato varieties in the world. For the sake of learning how to make great potato soup, I’m going to take only the ones that you’re most likely to find in the grocery store, and group them in two categories: waxy potatoes and starchy potatoes.
Waxy potatoes are low in starch, high in moisture, and high in sugar. They can hold their shape really well and have a creamy, but firm, texture. This makes them perfect for boiling and making soup. They’re usually small and round in shape, though some waxy potato varieties can be bigger.
Waxy potatoes include white potatoes (a.k.a. all-purpose potatoes) and red potatoes.
Starchy potatoes are high in starch, low in moisture, and low in sugar. When cooked, starchy potatoes fall apart and turn creamy. This makes them great for baking, mashing, and deep frying. Starchy potatoes are usually big and oval shaped.
Starchy potato varieties include Russets, Idaho, and Yukon gold.
The best potatoes for making soups and stews are waxy potatoes like all-purpose white and red potatoes. Yukon golds will also work as they’re right in-between waxy and starchy. Waxy potatoes will stand up well when boiled, unlike starchy potatoes which will break apart.
When you make potato soup with waxy potatoes, you’re going to get firm and creamy potato chunks that won’t break apart and make your soup thick like glue.
I used to live in the Netherlands. In one supermarket chain that was really into giving you a great shopping experience, they had icons on the packs of each potato variety to indicate what cooking method (like baking, mashing, frying, boiling) that variety was best for.
Just imagine how much easier it would be to shop for potatoes if all grocery stores did this…
How to Make Potato Soup Thicker, But Not Gluey
If you mash potatoes too much by hand or process them too long in a blender, they become sticky. This applies to the preparation of mashed potatoes as well as to potato soups and stews.
The best potato soup is creamy and chunky. To get that texture, only blend ½, ⅓, or ¼ of the potatoes, leaving the remaining ones in your soup intact.
The more of the potatoes you blend, the creamier the soup. The “golden ratio” is that point where you’ve blended enough of the potatoes to make really creamy soup, but not so many that the soup ends up the same texture as a big bowl of glue.
You want the potatoes to be the star of the show. They’re going to have a hard time doing that if they’re all over the place.
It’s also important how long you process the potatoes when you blend them. Always process potatoes for as little time as possible. This is where that “pulse” button on your blender comes into play.
Blend potatoes in 2-3 turns, for no longer than 2-3 seconds each, using the “pulse” button. This allows you to get a soft and creamy texture, while leaving out chunks and bits. That’s EXACTLY the texture you want for creaming soups and stews.
How to make potato soup that’s thick but not gluey:
- In a large pot, boil the potatoes in salty water for 20-25 minutes.
Depending on how creamy you want your soup to be, take out ½ (creamier soup) to ¼ (less creamy soup) of the potatoes and put them in the blender.
- Add enough cooking water to the blender to cover the potatoes.
Using the “pulse” button, blend the potatoes just enough, so that they become creamy but chunky.
- Add them back to your soup, stir, and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.
This technique gives you a creamy and chunky soup that won’t taste and feel like glue. Try it out and let me know how it worked out for you in the comments below.
How to Store Leftover Potato Soup
Made too much potato soup? Sometimes, you can make the most delicious potato soup in the world and still get leftovers. As long as you put it in the fridge or freezer, you can safely reheat and eat it later.
The most important thing if you have leftover potato soup is to NOT leave it out for the night (unless you’re planning to throw it away).
Potato soup should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours because bacteria will make it unsafe to eat.
Let your potato soup cool down completely before storing it in the fridge or freezer. Putting warm food in the fridge or freezer will damage them.
Store potato soup in the fridge and consume it no later than 5 days. Or transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Heat the potato soup in a large pot or saucepan over low to medium heat. Stir the soup occasionally so it warms well and heats evenly. When it begins to steam, it’s ready to serve. Don’t let the soup boil, especially if you cooked it with sour cream (otherwise the cream will separate from the soup).
Thaw potato soup by moving it from the freezer to the fridge the night before you’d like to eat it. Then reheat the thawed soup by following the technique above.