This Simple Old-Fashioned Potato Soup recipe is the kind of potato soup I grew up with, and it’s still my very favorite potato soup today. It’s made with just 4 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and takes very little time to prepare. When I’m looking for quick comfort food for a chilly day, this is one of my go-to recipes. I like to serve it with freshly-baked beer bread or cornbread. (And if you love hearty soups, also check out my recipe for Kielbasa and 15 Bean Soup!)
Back when I was a kid my dad would often make this easy potato soup for lunch or dinner on a cold day. My mom was the main cook in our house, but my dad was a good cook, too. He mainly stuck to a few specialties like this potato soup recipe (which I am pretty sure was passed down from my grandma). And back in those days, this was the typical potato soup. It was simple fare, and not the super-thick soup with lots of bacon, sour cream, and cheese like is common today. (Not that there is anything wrong with that kind of soup – I never did meet a potato soup I didn’t like!)
This being an old-fashioned soup, it’s a bit of a thinner potato soup. It’s thickened only by the milk and starch of the potatoes (making this a naturally gluten-free potato soup). But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s bland or boring – it’s actually loaded with flavor. If you’re like me and you love the flavors of butter, onions, and potatoes, you’ll likely love this soup. Of course, you can always add in some shredded cheese or crumbled bacon for even more flavor, but the basic recipe with a generous sprinkle of ground black pepper is the way I prefer to eat this potato soup.
Ingredients for Simple, Old-Fashioned Potato Soup
Potatoes – You’ll need to use potatoes that have a good amount of starch for this recipe in order to properly thicken the soup. Regular russet potatoes or other-baking type potatoes work best. You can also use gold potatoes, but avoid red potatoes because they don’t have enough starch.
Onions – I like to use yellow or sweet yellow onions (like Vidalia) for the best flavor.
Butter – Just good old butter is my preference. If you want to make a vegan or plant-based potato soup, substitute vegetable oil for butter or use your favorite plant butter.
Milk – While whole milk is my milk of choice for this recipe, you could add some cream or half and half if you want it extra creamy. You can also use low-fat milk, but it will result in a thinner and less creamy soup. Also, the risk of curdling is higher with lower fat milk, so you will need to be mindful to simmer the soup gently on low heat to prevent this. If you want a vegan or plant-based soup, use your favorite non-dairy milk.
Tips for making my Simple, Old-Fashioned Potato Soup Recipe:
- For best flavor, add a few pinches of salt to the water you boil the potatoes in. Also, add just enough water to cover the potatoes when boiling them. When draining the potatoes, reserve the cooking water. You can use it later to thin the soup if necessary.
- While the potatoes are boiling, cook the onions in the butter until they are soft and golden around the edges. This will sweeten the onions and really bring out the onion flavor. Do this over medium heat and keep an eye on the temperature to avoid burning the butter.
- When heating the milk, be sure to do it very gently, just until it bubbles around the edges. Don’t boil it or you risk curdling the milk.
- Season with salt and pepper to your taste. If you don’t like a lot of salt, start with a bit less than the recipe calls for. I recommend using a generous amount of ground black pepper.
As always, if you try this recipe, I hope you love it! Please let me know in the comments below.
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- 3 ½ pounds potatoes, diced
- Water with a few pinches of salt added (for boiling potatoes)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 6 cups whole milk (or milk of choice)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt (use more or less to taste)
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Add potatoes to a pot and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Stir in a few pinches of salt and bring to a boil. Boil gently until potatoes are fork-tender, but not falling apart, about 10-15 minutes; drain and set them aside, reserving a cup or so of the cooking water.
- While the potatoes are boiling, heat butter over medium heat in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add onions to the butter and cook until soft and golden brown around the edges.
- Add drained potatoes to the pot with cooked onions. Add milk, salt, and pepper. Gently bring to a simmer. Don't allow the milk to boil - you want it to have small bubbles around the edge of the pot.
- Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, and use a potato masher or immersion blender to mash up about half of the potatoes while leaving the rest chunky. If the soup needs to be made thinner, add a little bit of the reserved cooking liquid until you get the desired consistency.
- Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve while hot.