Potatoes are thought to have originated in Peru thousands of years ago. This is not the case, however. During the Seven Years’ War (1663-1756), Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a French pharmacist and agronomist who had been a prisoner in a German prisoner of war camp, was fed potatoes. When he returned to France, he began promoting potatoes as a food source for people in France and throughout Europe, launching potato soup kitchens for the starving people. In the 1870s many dishes were named in his honor, including potato soup. It is also said Europeans brought potatoes to America in the 1620s when the British governor in the Bahamas gifted them to the governor of Virginia.
American horticulturist Luther Burbank developed an improved Irish potato in 1872 and by the 1900s the Russet Burbank potato appeared throughout Idaho.
Creamy Pareve Potato Soup
I found this in “The Kosher Palette,” a cookbook of the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, Livingston, New Jersey.
- 1½ tablespoon oil
- 4 large peeled, halved Idaho potatoes
- 3 peeled, thinly sliced carrots
- 1½ tablespoon flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 8 cups water
- ½ cup non-dairy creamer
- ½ whole peeled onion
- 1 celery rib
- 1½ bay leaves
- chopped fresh parsley
1. Heat oil in a soup pot. Add potatoes and sauté constantly 3-5 minutes.
2. Add carrots. Stir in flour, salt and paprika. Add water, creamer, onion, celery and bay leaves.
3. Bring to a boil, reduce flame, cover and simmer 1½ hours, stirring occasionally to prevent potatoes from sticking to bottom of pot. Remove onion, celery and bay leaves.
4. Pour into bowls, and garnish with parsley.
For smoother version, transfer in batches to a blender, process until smooth and return to pot to reheat.
Potage Fermiere (Farmer’s Soup)
This comes from an old newspaper which I modified.
- 1 finely chopped medium onion
- 1 tablespoon unsalted pareve margarine
- 2 peeled and diced potatoes
- 6 cups pareve chicken stock
- 1 bunch split, sliced leeks
- ½ teaspoon dry tarragon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 6 tablespoons parve unsalted whipping cream
- Parmesan cheese
1. In a soup pot, sauté onion in margarine until glazed. Add potatoes and chicken stock. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
2. Add leeks, tarragon, salt, pepper and whipping cream. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until leeks are tender.
3. Mash mixture with a potato masher or puree in a blender. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with parsley. Pass Parmesan cheese to sprinkle.
Sybil Kaplan is a Jerusalem-based journalist, author, compiler/editor of nine kosher cookbooks and food writer for North American Jewish publications. She leads walks of the Jewish food market, Machaneh Yehudah, in English.