Hearty Potato Chowder is just a bit healthier than some of the “Loaded Baked Potato Soups” out there. More like an Old Fashioned Cream of Potato Soup, think of this soup as the plainer sister. You know who I mean, the one who has a sense of decorum (and might be not quite as much fun) but definitely more sensible. OK, so it’s me! I’m talking about me, lol!
Deep-seated sibling issues aside, this Hearty Potato Chowder, with its handful of ingredients, lets the flavor of the potato shine through. It’s absolute simplicity, uses basic pantry & fridge ingredients, and comes together quickly; It’s seriously ready in under half an hour (if you’re a fast peeler of the potatoes) and it’s so perfect for a cool fall or winter night. It’s a great, substantial meal to toss together after work when you need some heart-warming (and maybe some physical warming) comfort.
About Hearty Potato Chowder:
This chowder is a little magical. Even though it’s plain to start with, and the base of the soup is simple, potato flavor, you can still doll it up if you want. You’ve got a lot of options in your control.
First off, you can make it as chunky and brothy or as thick and creamy as you’d like; just leave it as is or mash some of it with a potato masher, or go all out and pull the blender out.
And when you do that, you can mash or blend a little of the potatoes or a lot. So it can be thin like an old-school chowder or a thick, stand-up-your-spoon concoction.
Just watch it; as the chowder sits it thickens up. Add a little more milk if you need to thin it out. And I guess I gotta say, if you want to go a lot richer, feel free to use a little half and half or cream for some of the milk.
Garnishing the Hearty Potato Chowder:
Then we gotta talk garnish. Use none, use a couple, or use them all!
- You can serve your hearty potato chowder with just a little bit of bacon, which is cooked as the first step; the drippings flavor the soup, and the bacon is reserved for topping. Or you can use more bacon!
- And if you want, you can load this up, like a baked potato with a little sour cream dolloped on top.
- Leaning that way, any fancy sour cream, cream cheese or Boursin-type cheese is good, too.
- Adding grated cheese is never wrong. I love it with Cheddar or Gruyere. Feel free to use your favorite (or maybe some bit of any random cheese you have in the fridge.)
What really makes the chowder, if you ask me (ok, no need to ask, I’ll just tell ya!) is a sprinkling of chives or some finely sliced green onion. It just gives the right little touch of flavor and freshness.
By now, we’ve probably gone way beyond plain jane and are well beyond fabulous! Just feel free to make this soup how you like it and you can’t go wrong!
What to Serve with Hearty Potato Chowder:
At our house, this soup is usually considered to be a meal in itself, and usually we don’t add sandwiches (although it’s great with any Roast Beef sandwich in particular, and can you imagine this with a Reuben?) That being said, there are a few options we love
- Serve this soup with a hearty bread like my Overnight No Knead Crusty Bread or this super easy Beer Cheese Bread, if you’d like. Any rustic loaf goes great with it.
- Maybe some croutons are more your style, and big homemade croutons are fantastic. Check out the Homemade Croutons I like to make with stale bread.
- You simply cannot go wrong with a great biscuit. Here’s my Bread Menu if you’d like to browse. You’ll find a few options!!
- Or skip the double carbs and go with a nice Side Salad.
Be sure to note that this recipe is 4 servings; if you have hearty eaters or want any leftovers, maybe for lunches the next day, double the recipe!
Making Hearty Potato Chowder:
The soup starts with a little bacon. I usually use about two slices but you can use more; the important thing is you do want about three tablespoons of drippings (add a little butter if needed) because the soup, as written, does need the richness. If you use more bacon, be sure to drain out any excess drippings; you don’t want to lean towards being too oily. You’ll saute your vegetables in those drippings.
You can use red, Yukon, or russet potatoes. I prefer russets and always peel them. If not, as they heat up in the soup, sometimes the peel can separate and that’s never very attractive.
If I’m feeling going for thick and thinking about blending this chowder, I won’t use the carrots – yup; they turn the chowder the most unattractive color and we eat with our eyes first.
I really try to pay attention to the flavor; at the most basic you can use water and there’s nothing wrong with that (salt it so the potatoes aren’t bland) but using a chicken stock ups the flavor profile. A good veggie stock is fine, too, if you’re thinking of going meatless, just use three tablespoons butter (preferably) or oil instead of the bacon and drippings.
Saving Money on Hearty Potato Chowder:
This soup is so dirt cheap to make (especially if you hold back on the pricey garnish) that I consider it a money-saving proposition any time I serve it. I think of it whenever it seems I have a pile of potatoes that need to be used asap, and of course, that usually happens when I’ve found a great sale.
Watch for the best sales before any major food holiday and stock up – don’t buy just enough for the big dinner, but buy instead, as many as you feel you’ll use in the next few weeks. Check out what might be on sale prior to any of the major food holidays on my post, Win at the Grocer.
Potatoes (and onions) are always the least expensive in the larger bags, especially if they’re on sale. Keep them in a cool, dark place away from your onions. I store mine, after removing from any plastic, in a paper grocery bag with the top folded over. The air can circulate and the light is kept out.Print
Hearty Potato Chowder
You are probably going to want double this!
- Total Time: under 30
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Soup
- Cuisine: American
- 2 slices bacon, diced
- 3 tablespoons onion, chopped
- butter if needed to bring bacon drippings to three tablespoons
- 5 to 6 medium potatoes, about 1 1/4 pounds, peeled and in 1/2″ dice; russet or red bliss
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced
- 2 1/4 cups water or broth, either chicken or vegetable
- 2 cups milk (add more if you’d like)or (1 cup of milk + 1 cup of 1/2 and 1/2 or cream)
- Salt to taste, you may need more or less depending on the saltiness of the broth; 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
- pepper to taste
- about 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, to taste, optional
- Garnish as desired with the crumbled bacon and possibly sour cream, chives or green onions, cheese
In a large saucepan, cook bacon until just crisp, remove, crumble, and reserve. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat and saute onion and carrots in the remainder. Add a little butter if mixture becomes too dry or there is not enough bacon fat to amount to three tablespoons.
Add potatoes and water (and salt) and/or stock just to cover, bring to a boil, partially cover with a lid, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add milk or dairy of choice. If the soup needs to be warmed more, return to heat just to warm through but do not boil. Taste for salt & pepper. Add garlic powder if using.
Use a hand masher and roughly mash a bit of the potato until soup reaches the consistency you desire or for a thicker soup, remove some of the potatoes and liquid (or use milk if there’s not enough liquid) to a blender, then return to the soup. The soup will thicken slightly as it cools a bit.
Note if blending soup, you may wish to omit carrots from the recipe.
Garnish with the reserved bacon. Garnish additionally as you desire with cheese, chives or green onion, and/or sour cream.
- This recipe makes 4 bowls of soup; you may wish to double.
- You might wish to try a little Old Bay Seasoning in this soup,
Nutrition: Per Serving, with only bacon for garnish: 210 Calories; 6g Fat (27.1% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 29g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 18mg Cholesterol; 554mg Sodium
Keywords: Bacon, cheddar, Cheese, chowder, milk, potato chowder, Potatoes, Soup, Sour cream