This easy Irish Potato Soup is a great easy weeknight slow cooker recipe your family will love! This comforting bowl of soup is studded with bacon, shredded welsh cheddar cheese and freshly chopped chives.
For this month’s Historically Hungry Challenge Amy and I wanted to revisit an event in history that totally changed an entire country – Ireland and the Great Potato Famine! Normally when we do our historical recipes, I try and create something that might have been enjoyed during that time and place. But that wouldn’t really work in this case (Because – “Here you go, its a bowl of air! Dig it!” doesn’t normally fly very well).
Instead I wanted to pay homage to Ireland and the humble little tuber that caused so much chaos – the potato. During the 1800’s, most people ate a mostly vegetarian meal, and it mostly consisted of soups and stews – so a potato soup that cooks all day in the slow cooker was a perfect choice!
Serve this with Irish Soda Bread for a delicious and awesome meal!
A Brief Look at The Great Potato Famine
The Great Potato Famine was a period in Ireland’s history around 1845-1849 where a potato blight infected potatoes and caused (to put it lightly) a LOT of suffering.
Basically, a disease caused by a type of fungus infected all the potatoes that destroyed both the leaves and the tubers of the potato plant. Before the blight hit, a lot of tenant farmers were already struggling to provide for their families. The potato was a favorite choice for crop because it was hardy, nutritious, and calorie dense and grew easily in the land. In fact, it was such a favorite crop that nearly half of the population had come to depend on the potato as a major (or complete) staple in their diet. When the blight hit, most of the potato crop was rotting in the field, and the people quickly became hungru.
The disease spread throughout Europe, but because of Ireland’s dependence upon the potato, it was really catastrophic there. Unfortunately, year after year, things got worse. There was no food, no jobs, diseases ran rampant, the government failed to act adequately, the economy was in shambles, and people were dying. Things were just… crappy.
By the end of the famine, over a million Irish people had died, another million and a half had emigrated elsewhere!
Soooo… now that we are all depressed, lets eat some soup, shall we?
How to Prep Irish Potato Soup Ahead
This Irish Soup is easy to prepare ahead of time.
- You can peel and dice the potatoes the evening before. Place the potato pieces in a pot of cold water in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- The onion, celery and garlic can be diced ahead of time and stored in an air tight container in the fridge.
- Cook the bacon and store in the fridge until the morning.
- Shred the cheese and store it in the fridge until ready to serve.
This potato soup also reheats well, making it really good for leftovers and meal prep.
How to serve Slow Cooker Potato Soup
How to serve soup as finger foods: This potato soup can be served to toddlers as finger food by straining out the solids from the liquids. Also serve with some shredded cheese, diced soft-cooked bacon, and finely chopped chives.
For children, Irish potato soup can be served in a small bowl. Allow the children to top their soup with the toppings they choose – shredded cheese, bacon pieces, chopped chives, and pepper. Sour cream would be a great addition, too!
For Adults, this easy potato soup can be topped with your favorite toppings and enjoyed! Serve with crusty bread and butter and enjoy!
How Kids Can Help Make Slow Cooker Potato Soup
One of the best ways of getting kids interested in eating new foods is to have them help you make the meal! Here are some great age appropriate ways to get your kids in the kitchen with you:
- Kids aged 1 to 3 can help you measure the ingredients, and wash and dry the potatoes, and celery.
- Kids aged 4 to 6 can help do everything above, plus help you shred the cheese, and chop the chives.
- Kids aged 7 to 10+ can help do everything above, plus help you dice the onions and celery, chop the cooked bacon.
*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child’s skill level. And always, always supervise! Read more about how to have your children help you in the kitchen.
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- 10 strips bacon, divided
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 lb Idaho potatoes
- 4 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
- salt and pepper
- 4 TBSP butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup chopped chives
- 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese.
- Cook the bacon until crispy. When cool, crumble or dice into small pieces. Divide in half - half goes into the slow cooker and half gets stored in the fridge until later.
- Place the onion, celery, garlic and potatoes into the slow cooker.
- Add in the broth, dried parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 8 hours (or high heat for 4 hours).
- Use a potato masher or an immersion blender to mash/puree some of the potatoes in the slow cooker. You don't have to get them all or make it perfect, just give it a good go.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Melt the butter and heat until it starts to sizzle.
- Whisk in the flour and stir for 1 minute.
- Slowly (about 1/4 cup at a time) add in the milk, whisking after each addition until the milk is completely mixed in.
- Continue whisking and cooking for 5 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the 2 cups shredded cheese and sour cream.
- Mix the sauce into the soup and stir to combine.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and top with reserved bacon, shredded cheddar cheese and chives.
A welsch type cheddar cheese is a perfect one to use, but any mild or sharp cheddar will work well here.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 718 Total Fat: 47g Saturated Fat: 26g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 16g Cholesterol: 140mg Sodium: 1057mg Carbohydrates: 39g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 4g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 35g