Friday, May 15, 2009

Tried & Tasted: FatFree Vegan Kitchen's Quick and Easy Potato Soup

On a cold, rainy weeknight, running low on vegetables and creativity, I pulled a forgotten bag of potatoes from the shadowy cupboard where they'd been quietly sprouting for weeks.

I hoped to turn them into a warming meal, using SusanV's recipe for Quick and Easy Potato Soup. I'm a frequent visitor to Susan's colorful, informative blog, FatFree Vegan Kitchen. I've salivated over her photos and envied her classy layout for months, but had yet to try any of her recipes. So when she posted that FatFree Vegan Kitchen would be the featured blog for this month's Tried & Tasted, I bookmarked the potato soup.

Tried & Tasted, created by Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen and hosted this month by Vaishali at Holy Cow!, encourages food bloggers to use and write about each others' recipes. At the end of the month, the host compiles the posts, providing a wealth of feedback for the featured blogger and publicity for participants.

Feedback on recipes is invaluable. While developing recipes for this blog, I make each dish a few times times, adjusting until I'm satisfied with its taste, texture, and appearance. But my notion of "sauté until golden," or "stir until few lumps remain" may differ from yours, and "cook over medium heat" is by no means universal. Most importantly, tastes vary. Unless you tell me that the stew was better with a teaspoon of cayenne, or that your cupcakes collapsed and the cookies fell apart, I'll never know. Even on blogs with a large and active following, like FatFree Vegan Kitchen, few readers comment after they've used a recipe to share how it turned out.

I'm sure by now SusanV knows her potato soup is fantastic, but I'll outline my impressions nonetheless. The recipe is written two ways, one for users of the robust VitaMix, and one for saps like me with common, pedestrian blenders. Making the soup without the mighty VitaMix requires 15 minutes' extra simmering, but during this time the ingredients require no attention.

I baked my potatoes in the microwave (5 minutes, turn, then 5 minutes more) because it dirtied the fewest dishes. With the simmered potatoes and onion I blended whole raw cashews, nutritional yeast, and plain Rice Dream. Usually I pass on creamed soup recipes that rely on non-dairy milks, but here the mild rice flavor was nicely compatible with potatoes. Soy would be too sweet.

This soup is so much more than the sum of its ingredients. The dominant flavor--no kidding--is bacon. If I hadn't made it myself, I wouldn't believe that it doesn't contain bacon fat. If I ordered this soup at a restaurant because the waiter told me it was vegan, I would send it back. Rosemary, white pepper, and nutritional yeast are the only seasoning, so where is the bacon coming from? Was it that my potatoes were old? Was it baking them? What is the secret ingredient that I, the cook, am not aware of?

My only critique is that recipe says it makes 4 servings. Maybe Susan's potatoes were bigger than mine, or maybe I'm just a glutton, but I got two main dish servings, tops.

I'm guessing anything that works in mashed potatoes would work well here: garlic, chives, chipotle peppers, even tempeh bacon crumbles. This recipe is a keeper, though I'll double it next time so I'll have leftovers. It's an easy, delicious way to use up neglected potatoes.


  1. Thank you so much for the feedback on the recipe. I'm glad you liked it! I attribute the bacon flavor to the nutritional yeast--that stuff is a miracle ingredient, in my opinion!

    Next time I make it, I'll have to pay attention to the exact size of the potatoes I used. I do usually get 4 servings out of it, but they may not be main-dish servings because I always serve it as a side dish. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Finally, I love your photos! I'm sorry that it's taken so long for me to visit your blog, but I'm glad I finally did. It's lovely, and I'm looking forward to reading more.

  2. I second that comment Susan, nutritional yeast IS the goodness, and good for what ails ya !

  3. thank you so much for participating T&T this month and all your lovely words you wrote about us. I hope you ll get a chance to come up with something delish for T&T Jue as well, the Blog of The Month is Meena of Hooked on Heat :-)

    nice knitting, I do thingies like that myself :-)


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