Sunday, April 5, 2020

Mark Bittman's Creamy Potato Soup with Rustic Chive Pesto for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

If you are stuck at home with limited trips to the store or grocery deliveries, it definitely helps to have a Mark Bittman cookbook or two. Between the number of recipes, plus the variations of those recipes, you can pretty much put in an ingredient and come up with countless ways to cook it.

I wanted potato soup and in How To Cook Everything Fast, I quickly found a variation of parsnip soup with parsley pesto that would makes the most of a few Yukon Golds from my 5lb bag AND use up a bunch of chives in my veggie drawer and pine nuts stored in my freezer.

Bittman says, "Vegetables that will be pureed need to be cooked until very soft. If you cut them into chunks, getting there can take 20 minutes, even longer. But grated, they're ready in a flash." (Deb's Note: I was;t that concerned about time and wanted a partially pureed soup, so I cut mine into small chunks.)

Creamy Potato Soup with Rustic Chive Pesto
How To Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman
(Serves 4)

2 Tbsp butter 
1 medium onion
4 large-ish potatoes (about 2 lbs) (I used Yukon Gold potatoes)
salt and pepper (I used celery salt)
6 cups stock or water (I used non-chicken stock)

1 bunch fresh chives
1 garlic clove
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 Tbsp olive oil

Put 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Trim, peel, and chop the onion.

When the butter starts to foam, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until it softens , 10 to 15 minutes. Peel potatoes and if grating, cut them into chunks that will fit in a food processor, or grate them by hand with a box grater. (I cut mine into 3/4-inch cubes.)

Raise the heat to high and add the potatoes, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and the 6 cups stock or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so that it bubbles gently but steadily and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20-minutes. . 

Meanwhile make pesto by chopping 1 cup of chives, mincing the garlic clove and roughly chopping the pine nuts. Combine them with 3 tablespoons olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Mash and stir with a fork against the sides of the bowl until the pesto becomes a loose paste. 

Turn the heat under the soup and run an immersion blender through the pot, or working in batches, transfer it to an upright blender and carefully puree. (I pureed about half of the soup.)

Reheat the soup for 1 to 2 minutes if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Divide the soup among 4 bowls, spoon the pesto over the top, and serve.

Notes/Results: A simple and tasty potato soup that goes up a level when the chunky, rustic pesto is added to the top. It's creamy without the cream and if you swap in olive oil or use vegan butter, you can take it from vegetarian to vegan. I will happily make it again.

Last week at I Heart Cooking Clubs we were supposed to pick our favorite from our 19 featured chefs and I didn't get an opportunity to post. Although I have several I am fond of, for many of the reasons mentioned above, I choose Mark Bittman. So many great, simple recipes, so many variation and his recipes are done in such a way that they are a great jumping off point to add my own twists and ideas. 

Here are five of my favorites. 

Spanish Tortilla from the New York Times

Simplest and Best Shrimp from How To Cook Everything (I used them in shrimp tacos):

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs from The New York Times:

Beans, Shrimp and Fennel from the VB6 Cookbook:

Spanish-Style Pasta e Fagioli from How To Cook Everything Fast:

And as a bonus...The Creamy Potato Soup with Chive Pesto that I just realized that I made before back in 2016! Have I mentioned that there are almost 600 soups posted here. Sometimes I goof and have a repeat! ;-) Oh, well... it is REALLY good!

Linking up this Mark Bittmen soup with I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck this week. Actually due to the difficulty in readily finding some ingredients and making due with what you have, we at IHCC are making all of our themes in April (after we welcome our newest featured chef Julia Child next week) a "Needs, Must" theme. Just like a month of Potlucks--any recipe from any of the 20 featured chefs (some are pictured below) making due with what you have in your pantry to cook with. Stop in and join us!

Now let's look into the Souper Sundays kitchen this week:

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared her thoughts on how the world has changed this month and shared a classic soup and sandwich combo saying, "We have been able to eat outside the kitchen quite a bit as the weather has been very nice. Here is another patio meal with grilled cheese on sourdough and tomato soup. Can't beat that combo."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Bog brought Instant Pot Vegan Potato Salad and said, "My husband loves potato salad and especially his grandmother's recipe that goes way back to his childhood growing up in the Middle East. I was delighted to convert the recipe to making it in the Instant Pot. I saved time and the mess of boiling a large amount of potatoes. … This interesting vegan recipe is made using lemon juice and oil as opposed to mayonnaise."

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen offers up a hearty soup saying, "This Sweet Potato and Blackeye Bean Soup was a well flavoured soup, not just from the sweetness from the sweet potatoes, but also hints from the other herbs, namely the sage. I haven't had blackeye beans for a little while, so the soft nuttiness added both flavour and melt in the mouth texture. On the last day of eating and reheating the soup, the sweet potatoes disintegrated completely."

Thank you to Tina, Judy and Shaheen for joining me this week!

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.

On your entry post (on your blog):

  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Have a happy, healthy week and stay safe and well.


  1. So much delicious looking food!

  2. The soup does look good and its funny that you mention that you made the potato soup before, noting wrong with remaking it again and showcasing on your blog. I do it often, with faves something varying it a little with a different herb or veg addition. I own one book by Mark Bittman, How to Cook Vegetarian and i think i may have cooked from it twice. I will take it off the bookshelf today and flick through for some inspiration, but his Spanish-Style Pasta e Fagioli from How To Cook Everything Fast looks good, so thanks for sharing the link to that, I may give it a go.


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