I love taking traditional recipes and giving them my own flair. I was recently down in the city of Madison, in southern Indiana for their annual “Soup, Stew, Chili and Brew” event and the Rivers Institute’s Steamboat Celebration. It was great fun and was fortunate to meet a lot of very friendly folks, including Phaedra Jones of the Ohio Valley Celtic Society. She was nice enough to share her traditional Irish potato soup recipe with me. This is a great soup just as it is. But, I also decided to experiment with variations and created one that has a bit of a kick to it with a few extra spices and pepper smoked pork tenderloin. I hope you’ll try them both!
Ohio Valley Celtic Society’s Chunky Irish Potato Soup
courtesy of Phaedra Jones
4 medium/large potatoes
4 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced leeks
Salt and black pepper
Crushed red pepper
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2-3 cups milk
2 cups cubed ham (cooked)
1 1/2 cups Irish sharp cheddar cheese
Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Can use peeled or unpeeled potatoes, depending on preference. Cover potatoes with water in 6 qt. pot and bring to boil, cooking until potatoes are tender. Drain, but reserve the liquid. Set potatoes and liquid aside.
In pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add finely chopped onions and leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and tender. Season with salt, black pepper, and (~1 tbsp.) crushed red pepper to taste preference. Add flour to mixture and cook 2-3 minutes.
Gradually add reserved water to mixture, stirring often. Once pot is 1/3 full with water mixture, add potatoes. Gradually add milk, stirring often. (2 cups of milk, if thicker soup is preferred). Add ham and simmer over low-medium heat for 20 minutes. Add grated cheese; cook 5-10 more minutes. Best when served with traditional Irish soda bread.
Wayne's Weekend Variation
Potato Soup with Pepper Smoked Pork Tenderloin and Sweet Potato
variation on the Ohio Valley Celtic Society’s traditional version
3 medium/large potatoes
1 medium/large Sweet Potato
4 tbl Butter
1/3 cu Diced Onion
1/3 cu Diced Leeks
1 Jalapeño Pepper, seeded and finely minced
1/2 tsp Freshly Chopped Sage
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
4 tbl All Purpose Flour
2 cu Whole Milk
3/4lb Pepper Smoked Pork Tenderloin
1 3/4 cu Dubliner Irish Cheese, coarsely grated
1/4 cu Sour Cream
8 small Sage Leaves, for garnish
Thinly slice about 1/4lb of the pork tenderloin for garnish. Set it aside and chop the remainder into small cubes.
Peel and dice all four potatoes into 1" cubes. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are just tender, about 12-15 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving liquid, and set both aside. In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and leeks and sauté until tender. Add the sage, salt, crushed red pepper and half of the jalapeño, and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add flour to mixture and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
Gradually add reserved water to mixture, stirring often. Once post is 1/3 full with water mixture, add potatoes. Gradually add the milk, stirring often. Add the chopped pork tenderloin and heat for 20 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups grated cheese and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Mix sour cream with the remaining jalapeño and cheese. Ladle servings of soup in individual bowls. Top a thinly sliced piece of pork with a dollop of the sour cream mixture and then float it on top of the soup. Garnish with a sage leaf.
Thanks to Phaedra for sharing her recipe. Both her original version and my variation are perfect comfort food to warm you up during the cold months ahead.