The Best Potatoes for Soup, Plus Tips on Making Cozy Potato Soup at Home
A warm, creamy bowl of potato soup is one of the best comfort foods (especially when there's a chill in the air). But with so many different types of potatoes in the produce section, it's hard to know which spuds to grab. If your potato soup recipe doesn't specify which kind to use, it is important to know the varieties of potatoes that are best for soup. Depending on whether the soup is creamy or the potatoes are left in chunks in a broth base will determine if you should buy Russets, Yukon golds, or red potatoes. Read on for descriptions of potato types and the soup recipes they're best to use in. We'll also give you our Test Kitchen's step-by-step tips on how to make potato soup that is always delicious, rich, and creamy.
Best Potatoes for Soup
Here are the most common varieties of potatoes that will work best for every type of soup recipe.
Round white potatoes (top left): These round, white spuds are low-starch and are often called waxy potatoes. They hold their shape better than other potatoes after cooking. This makes them one of the best potatoes for soup when you want skin-on chunks of potato.
Russet potatoes (top center): Russets are high-starch potatoes with a light, mealy texture. They are best for baked potatoes, French fries, and mashed potatoes. These are also the best choice for baked potato soup.
Purple potatoes (top right): Purple potatoes are medium-starch potatoes with qualities similar to yellow potatoes. For best appearance, use them cubed in soups rather than mashed as a thickener (though we love the hue in this purple potato soup). Their purple color gives them an antioxidant boost that white potatoes lack.
Yellow or Yukon Gold potatoes (bottom left): These are medium-starch all-purpose potatoes. They contain more moisture than high-starch potatoes (like russets), so they don't fall apart as easily. These are a good choice for soups that require part of the potato to be mashed for thickening and the rest to be left in chunks.
New red potatoes (bottom center): These potatoes have similar qualities as round white potatoes and can be used in many of the same ways. New red potatoes are best for when you want a bit of color from the skin.
Fingerling potatoes (bottom right): Fingerling potatoes are best when their unique shape and size is highlighted in soup. Leave the skin on and halve any large potatoes. Use them in broth-base soups or stews.
How to Make Potato Soup
If you're a fan of creamy potato soup, follow these steps to make a delicious homemade pot of soup at home.
Step 1: Cook Potatoes
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven ($42, Walmart), combine potatoes and onion in enough water to cover the potatoes and allow them to move freely when boiling. Bring to boiling over high heat; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until potatoes are tender. (Make sure you use a big enough pan so water doesn't boil out from under the lid while simmering.) Potatoes are done when a fork or tip of a sharp knife can be easily inserted and removed. Drain in a colander.
Step 2: Blend Potatoes
Reserve a cupful of cooked potatoes to give the soup texture. Puree the remaining potatoes with broth in a blender or food processor ($50, Target) until smooth. This acts as a thickener for the soup. (You can omit pureeing in this step and use an immersion blender ($25, Walmart) to puree the soup in Step 4.)
Step 3: Make the Cream Base
Melt butter in the same saucepan. Stir in flour and seasonings. Whisk in the milk until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until the base is slightly thickened and bubbly. Continue cooking and stirring for another minute to develop a rich, creamy flavor.
Step 4: Finish the Potato Soup
Add the pureed potato mixture, remaining broth, and reserved potato chunks. (This is where you can puree the soup in the pan with an immersion blender before adding the reserved chunks of potato.) Cook soup until heated and adjust seasonings. If a thinner soup is desired, stir in a little more milk or half-and-half.
Test Kitchen Tip: To make potato soup without peeling or cubing the potatoes, skip step 1 above and go with baking the potatoes instead of boiling them. If using baked potatoes, sauté the onion in melted butter in step 3, then continue making the creamy base as directed.
Now that you know the best potatoes for soup, grab your favorites and try one of these delicious comforting potato soup recipes.