Bord Bia's National Potato Day takes place this Friday, 1 October. The aim is to celebrate this staple ingredient of the Irish diet by making some fun and creative recipes starring the not-so-humble spud.
If you visit the National Potato Day website, you'll find lots of recipes and ideas to help spice up your potato dishes. For me, with National Potato Day coinciding with chillier weather, I just had to make a big pot of soup for me and my family.
Building a great soup
To make a great soup, you need to build layers of flavour. This starts with a base of aromatics – carrots, onions, leeks and/or celery – which should be well-softened before adding in any kind of stock or liquid. Then, I like to add another flavour enhancer before adding in the hot stock. I usually use white wine or tomato paste, depending on the soup.
Once the liquids have been added in, a good soup benefits from a slow simmer over a longer period of time – a minimum of 40 minutes and up to an hour.
Finally, you need to think about the garnish - which type of garnish will benefit your soup?
In this case, I chose a spicy Italian 'nduja sausage and crunchy sourdough croutons.
If you can't find 'nduja (I found some in my local Lidl), you can use fried and crumbled chorizo. This potato soup is Italian-inspired in flavour, but I used some really great Irish ingredients, including locally grown leek and potatoes from Larkin's Hill Farm in Co Tipperary.
This isn't a soup for someone on a diet, but it is full of rich flavour and wholesome Irish ingredients. It definitely didn't last long in our house!
Looking forward to seeing all of your potato creations on Friday. Post your recipes to social media using the hashtag #NationalPotatoDay.
6 large potatoes (Roosters work well here)
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large leek, light green and white parts only, finely sliced
2 tbsp rapeseed oil or butter
200ml dry white wine
1.5l hot chicken or vegetable stock
1 large bulb of garlic, roasted and cloves squeezed out
Salt and pepper, to taste
100g 'nduja or diced chorizo, warmed through in a pan
1/2 loaf sourdough, cut into large cubes
1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot on medium high. Add the rapeseed oil and then the onion and leek. Cook gently for at least 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions and leeks are soft and translucent.
2. While the leeks and onions are cooking, peel, wash and cube your potatoes. Add them in with the leeks and onions and cook gently for an addition five minutes.
3. Add in the wine and bring it to a simmer. Cook the wine until it reduces by half. At this stage, I season with a bit of salt.
4. Add in the hot chicken stock, ensuring the potatoes are completely covered. Reduce the heat to medium low and gently simmer for around 40 minutes – until the potatoes are completely broken down.
5. While the soup simmers, cut the top off the bulb of garlic so the cloves are all exposed. Drizzle the bulb with a bit of oil and wrap it in tin foil. Bake the bulb in the oven for 30 minutes, until roasted.
6. Remove the bulb of garlic from the tin foil. Squeeze the bulb until all of the separate cloves of roasted garlic come out. Add the roasted garlic cloves in with the soup for the final 10 minutes or so of cooking.
7. Remove the soup from the heat and, using a hand blender, blitz until it's completely smooth and creamy. Add in the cream and stir to combine. Taste the soup and check for seasoning. While preparing the garnishes, you can leave the soup on a very low heat to stay warm until ready to serve.
8. Add the 'nduja (or chorizo) to a frying pan and gently cook on medium low heat until the sausage has broken down (the 'nduja will nearly completely melt; making it ideal for drizzling over the soup). Place the sourdough cubes on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with some oil. Bake at 190°C until golden brown and crunchy.
9. Serve the soup in warmed bowls with a generous drizzle of 'nduja and several of the crunchy croutons. Eat straight away and enjoy!