6 Best Potatoes For Soup – quick reference guide

Potatoes are the ultimate comfort food – from fries to chips and creamy salad to fully loaded baked potatoes and what is better than a steaming bowl of potato soup on a cold day?

On one such rainy day, I was down with a cold and decided to make myself a big bowl of my grandma’s potato soup. So I dragged myself out of bed and started cooking. To my dismay, the soup turned into a thick, gluey mass.

What my dear grandma’s potato soup recipe failed to mention was that not all potatoes are created equal. Here’s what I have learned for the next time I try to make this bowl of potato goodness.


Best Potatoes For Soup

Not All Potatoes Are Created Equal

To be able to pick out the best potatoes for your soup, you must first determine what kind of soup you want to make. Is it thick and creamy? A chunky chowder? A light soup with firm, diced vegetables?

  • Different types of potatoes have different starch content, skin thickness, and react differently to heat.
  • Varieties that are starchy do not keep their shape very well when cooked. But the starch and high moisture content makes them fluffy and absorbent. These potatoes are best for frying and baking. The starch content will quickly help thicken stews.
  • Under the starchy variety are classic Idaho Russet and Katahdin.
  • Opposite to the starchy variety are waxy potatoes. As the name suggests, they do not absorb much moisture. This makes them superb for soups and stews, allowing them to hold their shape well.
  • Some examples of waxy potatoes are Red Bliss, New Potatoes, Adirondack Blue and Red, Inca Gold, and Fingerling potatoes.
best potatoes for potato soup and stew

Via: dishingdelish.com

Between these two are all-purpose potatoes, which are of medium starch and will work well in most dishes. These include Yukon Gold potatoes, Kennebec, and Purple Peruvian. The list goes on and on!

The possibilities are endless, so just keep in mind the effects that the three main categories have on the soup to anticipate how each specific variety can affect the outcome of your dish.

The Best Potatoes For Soup or Stew

When it comes to making the best potato soup, you have to be picky about your potatoes if you don’t want to end up with a gooey mess. Here are some of the best varieties to try to make the perfect bowl of potato soup:

1. Red Potatoes

The low starch content means they will not mess with the thickness of your soup either. Red potatoes and fingerling potatoes are some examples of the boiling variety.

Speaking about Boiling potatoes, just as the name suggests are great for boiling and roasting. Their waxy texture makes sure that they do not absorb too much water. It helps them to keep their shape despite the moisture and high heat.

red potatoes for potato soup and stew

In many cases, red potato soup combines two kinds of preparations that potatoes are very tasty at. It is baking and boiling. Traditionally the soup ends up creamy, cheesy, and slightly spicy.

Slow cooker-made potato soup with corn chowder often contains red potatoes diced in chunks, showing off how reds are able to hold their shape.

2. Yukon Gold Potatoes for the best soup or stew

Yukon Golds are considered all-purpose potatoes which are in between waxy and, on the other end of the spectrum, starchy varieties. With their flexibility, the Yukons are surely worth their weight in gold!

best potatoes for stew

Via: yummly.com

These are said to be good for boiling, frying, salads, and are great mashed.

Just be sure to treat them gently. While they can hold their own against boiling, like round potatoes, these all-purpose Yukon Golds can fall apart when they are over-cooked.

3. Purple Majesty for the best soup or stew

potatoes soup or stew with purple majesty potato

These elegant-sounding potatoes are of the all-purpose variety. They are oblong in shape and have dark purple skin with purple flesh. It keeps its color when cooked, which could make for an interesting-looking bowl of soup.

This variety is superior with its high antioxidants and can be eaten roasted, baked, in potato salad, and of course, in soups.

4. Sweet Potatoes for the best soup or stew

This is quite interesting as a soup potato, with its unique flavor profile. Sweet potatoes, which are often confused as yams, have bright orange flesh and have a myriad of health benefits.

They are rich in vitamin A, antioxidants, and beta-carotene. It is said to be best taken with some fat to fully take advantage of the benefits of the variety – Hello, bacon! – keep that fat at a minimum, though. One of the best ways to prepare sweet potatoes and reap their health benefits is by boiling them.

best sweet potatoes for soup and for stew

Via: womansday.com

Try this recipe for cinnamon-spiced Sweet Potato Soup with Maple Croutons. You will surely satisfy your sweet tooth! For an exotic soup with layers of flavor, whip up this Sweet Potato Peanut Soup that is spicy with garlic, ginger, cumin, and cayenne and unique with some creamy peanut butter.

5. Russet Potatoes

Russet Potatoes

Russets or Idaho potatoes are the standard potatoes that people think of. They are high in starch and low in moisture. The hardy root crop is mealy in texture. Because they can soak up liquid quickly, russets lose their shape, so they are not the best for soups.

They are ideal for fluffy mashed potatoes. Being highly absorbent, they make delicious, crisp fries and hearty baked potatoes, perfectly seeping up the butter and oils. However, be sure not to overwork russets, especially when making mashed potatoes, lest they become gluey in texture.

russet potatoes for soup and stew

Via: kraftrecipes.com

In soup, the starch content in russets makes the liquid thicken quickly and become creamy. So, be sure you use these sparingly.

Interestingly, despite appearing to be less than ideal for potato soup, russets appear in many recipes for “perfect” potato soup.

6. New White Potatoes

New potatoes are potato tubers that have been harvested in early summer, before fully mature—before the
potato vines have withered away. New white potatoes are early-picked potatoes with white flesh, typically
with thin, tan-colored skins. These two qualities make these some of the best potatoes for soup.

white new potato

Their immaturity and whiteness mean that the skins of these potatoes are particularly subtle in texture and taste,
and their flesh is vaguely sweet and very creamy. This is perfect for stews and soups, in the sense that they
add definite flavor and structure to such dishes, but without the potato, skin conferring an overpowering,
and perhaps unwanted, earthiness.

How To Make Creamy Potato Soup

leek and potato creamy soup
  1. Peel and roughly chop the potatoes that you have decided are the best potatoes for soup. Place them (around 250g per serving) in a sauce pan. Pour boiling water over them, making sure that they are all covered by hot liquid. Place the saucepan on your hob. After that bring the potatoes to the boil. Then then let them simmer at a medium heat until soft.

  2. While your potatoes are boiling. you’ll need to get started on your soup’s base flavours.
    • Fry a diced white onion (1 per two servings) with crushed garlic cloves (1 per two servings) in an oil of your choice until golden.
    • Then add leek coins (one chopped stick per three servings).
    • You can also to add chilli and salt to taste.
    • Allow the mixture to sweat for 5 minutes on a low-ish heat, and then pour in your single cream (50ml per serving).
    • Sprinkling in nutritional yeast liberally, continue to heat the mixture for another five minutes, before removing from the cooking ring.

  3. Once your potatoes are fully cooked, drain them, and combine them with the mixture of cream and vegetables. Use a hand-held food processor to cream the potatoes thoroughly, making sure that there are no lumps.

  4. Depending on the viscosity of your soup, you’ll probably need to add some water to make the soup properly souplike: add as much as needed to make the mixture properly liquid. Continue to taste and season the food as you stir the water through on a high heat, before serving.

How To Make A Firm Potato Soup

How to make firm potato soup
  1. Fry chopped onions (1 per two servings) in olive oil with crushed garlic (1 clove per two servings) until golden. Add a pinch of chilli powder or flakes, before adding chopped celery (1 stick per two servings) and coined carrot (2 per serving). Put a lid on the saucepan and lower the heat, allowing the vegetables to absorb flavour.

  2. After around five minutes, add tinned chopped tomatoes (200g per serving) to the mixture, along with vegetable stock (75ml per serving) and tomato purée (10ml per serving). Continue to heat the pan at a medium-low heat, adding salt to taste.

  3. Wash and scrub your chosen potatoes in the sink while your tomato soup-base is cooking. Cut the potatoes (around 250g per serving) into 3x3x3cm pieces (or as close as the contours of the potato will allow you!). Add them into the tomato liquid with soaked green lentils (200g per serving).

  4. Continue to cook the soup at a low heat. In order to make sure that the potato soup remains firm one (that is, stewlike, and not mushy), you’ll need to test the consistency of the potatoes every so often as they cook, as well as making adjustments to taste with pinches of spice and salt whenever you want. Depending on how many potatoes you’re cooking, they should take around 20-30 minutes to cook. Once soft, bring the soup to the boil and serve immediately.

How do I keep my potatoes firm in a soup?

The key thing is to keep checking your potatoes when cooking them in a soup or stew, and only add them towards the end of the process (that is, taking the soup off the heat once the potatoes are soft).

However, add a small amount of vinegar when boiling what you have decided are the best potatoes for stew. The vinegar works to form a thin (tasteless!) crust on the surface of the tubers, meaning that the potatoes are better able to keep their shape in the hot permeating water.

Frequently Asked (Potato) Questions

Do you have to peel potatoes for a soup or stew?

Simply put: no.

It is really up to you whether you, though you should make sure to wash and scrub your potatoes quite carefully if you decide to keep the skin of your spuds on.

Some people don’t really like the taste of potato skin, and if you are doing a creamy, puréed-type soup. It might be a little off-putting if there’s a large amount of potato skin in the mix but at the same time, potato skins can provide texture and structure, and are packed full of macro-nutrients and fiber.

potato skins for the best soup

Are potato skins safe to eat?

Another simple answer: yes.

Although you’ll want to get any residues of soil off the skins through washing, potato skins are really good for you. They contain vitamins B, C, iron, calcium, among other nutrients. Indeed, around 50% of a potato’s total nutrients are found in the skin: the flesh of potato is really just starch (which is great energy) and doesn’t contain much of the good stuff that its skin does.

Potato skins are really good for how your digestive system functions, too, because they contain a lot of insoluble fiber. So while some people might prefer skin-free potatoes, there is absolutely no actual health reason for why you should not be eating them.

Do soft, sprouting potatoes spoil the soup or stew?

You probably want to err on the side of caution with regard to this. While a creamy soup can be a good way to use up on-the-turn potatoes. If the spuds in question are soft to the touch, you probably want to avoid cooking with them.

soft sprouting potatoes

On the other hand, potatoes that have only just begun to sprout are usually fine: while we wouldn’t recommend extravagantly-sprouted ones, it is kind of a matter of personal discretion whether you break off the sprouts and get cooking.

Have you ever had problems cooking potato soup? Do you have some great tips to share on picking potatoes? Let us know in the comments!

And, please do share your favorite potato soup recipe for those cold, rainy nights when we all need a nice, warm bowl of comfort food.