Traditional, flavorful Irish Potato Soup is a warm and comforting lunch or dinner dish. The recipe is inspired by a soup we had in a Dublin pub, a Delectable Destination.
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After a day spent on the island of Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, we drove through Galway for dinner and then headed to Dublin.
There, after a day of sights and shopping, we had a lovely lunch of potato soup and Irish brown bread, a meal that inspired this cream of potato soup recipe.
The recipe is first, then find stories of this leg of our Ireland journey, through Galway and Dublin right after the recipe.
- The history of potatoes in Ireland
- What makes this Potato Soup so good
- What are the best potatoes to use for this soup?
- 🔪 How to make creamy Irish Potato Soup
- What else can I add to this soup?
- 📖 Recipe
- Travels in Ireland: Dinner in Galway
- A day in Dublin
- The Book of Kells and the Old Library
- Lunch at Sheehan's Bar
- 💬 Comments
The history of potatoes in Ireland
Even those that know little about Ireland know that potatoes are part of many traditional Irish dishes, and have heard about the Irish Potato Famine.
Darina Allen, the co-founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School, writes in her book Irish Traditional Cooking that potatoes first came to Ireland in the 18th century. Easy to grow and abundant, in the 1800s potatoes were one of the few foods that poor Irish farmers could afford to grow for their families.
Allen shares that after the famine, many Irish households turned away from home-grown and foraged ingredients, relying instead on store-bought, packaged foods that became more widely available through the late 19th and the 20th century.
The last several decades have seen a renewed pride in Irish cuisine, including farm-to-table dining, traditional ingredients, and recognizing the diverse influences in their food. And potatoes remain an important part of the culture.
What makes this Potato Soup so good
Once home from our visit to Ireland, I recreated the traditional Irish Potato Soup we had enjoyed in Dublin. It's a hearty, stove-top soup made extra flavorful with onion, garlic, and cream, and puréed to a silky finish.
This homemade soup is delicious in its simplicity. It's smooth, creamy, and the perfect comfort food. I love it with thick slices of buttered Irish brown bread or crackers. The soup can also be served as a side dish with roasts, burgers, and other meaty dishes.
The potatoes and cream are all that's needed for a creamy soup—there's no flour or any other thickeners added in. In fact, as long as the stock you use has no added gluten, this soup is gluten-free.
Enjoy potato soup just the way it is or top it with shredded cheddar cheese, diced bacon, and chopped chives.
The very best thing of all is that this simple soup is really easy to make. From start to finish it takes about an hour, and can even be made in advance.
Speaking of potatoes, have you ever tried Syracuse Salt Potatoes? They're so delicious!
What are the best potatoes to use for this soup?
Potatoes are classified as either waxy or starchy, and some varieties, called all-purpose, have the characteristics of both. Waxy potatoes hold their shape after cooking—while these are great for dishes like potato salad, that's not what you want for a smooth, creamy soup.
Choose starchy potatoes like russet or Idaho for this potato soup. They break down easily after cooking and are easy to purée, so your soup will have a silky texture. Yukon Golds can also be used, though they'll make your soup look more yellow in color.
🔪 How to make creamy Irish Potato Soup
Ingredients in Potato Soup:
- Russet Potatoes: Easy to find and they break down easily in this soup
- Onions: Yellow onions are fine for this recipe
- Garlic: To add flavor to this soup
- Oil: To saute the aromatics
- Chicken or Vegetable Stock: Stock makes this soup especially flavorful
- Salt: To flavor the soup
- Rubbed Sage: This herb is delicious with the potato and aromatics
- Half & Half: This gives the soup creaminess and body
Step 1: Prep the potatoes, onion, and garlic
Peel and slice the potatoes, and hold them aside in a pan of cold water. Dice the onion and garlic.
Step 2: Sauté the onions and garlic
Cook the diced onions and garlic for about 5 minutes until they're translucent and fragrant.
Step 3: Add everything to the soup pot
Add stock, garlic, onions, and potatoes to a stock pot along with the seasoning. Bring everything to a boil.
Step 4: Simmer
Simmer the soup for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Step 5: Purée the soup
Use an immersion blender or a regular blender to purée the soup, until it's smooth.
Step 6: Finish with cream
Stir in warmed half & half and a little more seasoning. Give it a few more minutes on the burner to warm it through, and it's ready to serve.
What else can I add to this soup?
This simple soup works well with other ingredients added in. Make Potato Soup with cabbage or with leeks: chop the veggies, then gently sauté them in a little oil until they're tender. Stir them into the puréed soup.
Or, make Potato Soup with corned beef, sausage, Irish bacon, or ham. Dice these cooked meats, then stir them into the puréed soup to heat through.
Top the soup with shredded cheese, chopped chives, toasted breadcrumbs, or diced herbs. A drizzle of chili oil is also delicious.
At the pub in Dublin we had corned beef and cabbage sandwiches with our potato soup and that was a very good pairing. The light flavor of this soup is perfect with other deli meat sandwiches, grilled cheese, a good Irish toastie, or simply served with a buttered slice of Irish Brown Bread. You can also enjoy a small bowl as a side dish with your dinner.
You can store potato soup in the fridge for up to five days. You can also freeze the soup—see below.
You can freeze this Irish potato soup IF you don't add the half-and-half. After simmering and puréeing the soup, let it cool completely. Pour it into freezer-proof resealable bags or containers and place them in the freezer for up to three months.
To thaw the soup, place the container in the fridge and let it thaw there. Gently reheat the soup and add the warmed half-and-half. Whisk the soup or use an immersion blender to bring everything together into a smooth soup.
To keep some rustic texture in this soup, scoop out about half of the potatoes and onions after they're simmered. Purée the rest of the soup, then stir the rest of the potatoes and onions back into the puréed soup.
Simply use vegetable stock instead of chicken to make a vegetarian version of this soup. You can also use a non-dairy substitiute for the half-and-half to make a vegan version.
- Make this soup with either chicken or vegetable stock. It's delicious either way and gives you the option of making it as a vegetarian soup.
- The recipe calls for half-and-half, but you can also make a richer soup by using heavy cream. For a thinner soup, use regular or evaporated milk.
Don't wait until March to make this Irish recipe. It makes a wonderful lunch or dinner any day of the year.
The recipe for old-fashioned Irish Potato Soup is below. Here are more recipes inspired by my time in Ireland:
💬 What do you think of this Irish Potato Soup? Have you been to Dublin? Leave a comment below.
Irish Potato Soup
- 3 pounds Russet potatoes
- 3 small yellow onions (about 12 ounces)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2½ teaspoons salt, divided
- 1¼ teaspoons ground sage, divided
- 1 cup half and half
- Optional: diced chives or scallions, shredded Cheddar cheese, crumbled, cooked bacon, toasted bread crumbs
Prepare the potatoes and veggies:
- Have a large bowl of cold water ready for the cut potatoes. Wash and peel the potatoes, and then slice them into 1½-inch chunks. Place the potato chunks into the cold water as you slice them, to keep them from discoloring.
- Peel the onions, and then dice them finely. (A fine dice here ensures a quick sauté later.) Once the onions are done, press down on the garlic cloves with the flat side of your knife and then slip off the skins. Finely dice the garlic.
Cook the onions and garlic:
- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot placed over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the diced onions and garlic. Stir and sauté the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, until the onions have softened and are looking translucent. Remove the pan from the heat.
Put everything in the pot:
- Add the stock to the stockpot with the onions and garlic. Drain the potatoes and add them to the pot as well. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the sage. Bring the the contents to a boil, and then reduce the heat a bit to keep the soup at a simmer. Continue simmering the contents until the potatoes are very soft, about 15-18 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.
- While the soup cooks, warm up the half and half in microwave (in short bursts) or in a small saucepan, to just beyond lukewarm. Heating it up will prevent the cream from curdling when you add it to the hot soup.
- Purée the soup using a stick immersion blender until the soup is very smooth. You can also purée the soup in batches in a blender - leave the small, clear cap off the top and cover the hole with a clean dishcloth so that steam can escape. Be very careful not to burn yourself!
Add the cream:
- Once the soup is puréed return the pot to the burner and turn the heat to medium. Add in the warm half-and-half along with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt (taste your soup before you add this salt—depending on your stock it may be salty enough for your taste) and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of sage.
- Stir the soup over medium heat for about 5 more minutes and then it is ready to serve.
- Makes about 12 cups of soup.
- Enjoy the Potato Soup as it is, with a slice of buttered Brown Bread on the side! Or, add toppings like chives, scallions, Cheddar cheese, toasted breadcrumbs, or crumbled bacon.
- Keep leftover soup covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days.
- This soup is delicious made with either chicken or vegetable stock, giving you the option of making this soup vegetarian if you would prefer!
Travels in Ireland: Dinner in Galway
We boarded the ferry from Inishmore back to Rossaveal, squishing into our seats with our bags of island treasures. For some reason, I decided not to have the store ship my Irish wool sweaters for free. (I have a bad habit of doing illogical things.)
As we sat, I soon realized that the sound system no longer played the '80s music we had heard on the ride over. Instead, it was a sporting event. The announcers were frantic and emotional as they covered the game, quickly throwing in the changing scores for Limerick and Galway teams.
A couple of nights earlier in Donegal, we had seen a news story about the national sport of Ireland: Hurling, "the fastest game on grass." (If you haven't seen a hurling match, watch this clip on YouTube now.)
I later learned that this was the All Ireland Championship, a tournament that Limerick had not won since 1973. Their fans were pumped! Our ferry arrived before the finish, so we were left to wonder if the favored Galway team would take it, or if Limerick would pull in their first win in 45 years.
We faced a long drive to get to our next destination, Dublin. There wasn't enough time for an extended visit to Galway (Gaillimhe) but figured we could at least swing through for dinner. We parked in the Latin Quarter near the Spanish Arch, the remains of a 16th-century wall built along the quay of the River Corrib.
As we walked past this cobblestone-paved public area, there was a strange feeling in the air and in the people, one that felt like... a party had just ended. There was listlessness, and debris blew around all over the ground. We didn't think much of it at the moment (too hungry) and continued onto Quay Street.
Quay Street is a colorful and vibrant walking mall with restaurants crowding both sides of the street, and a crush of people filing through. Musicians and dancers performed here and there. I wished we had had more time to explore this street, but we instead ducked into Martine's Restaurant.
There, my sister and mom enjoyed Irish beef burgers on soft baps (rolls) spread with "sweet mayo". They loved that sweet mayo!
Later research revealed that sweet mayo is just mayonnaise mixed with ketchup — but they insist it's much tastier than that. My dinner was a wonderful and velvety sweet potato coconut soup, as well as a walnut-spinach risotto.
And while we sat eating, we overheard (from a neighboring table or maybe the bar) that Limerick had defeated Galway in the All-Ireland Championship. No wonder the party by the quay had come to a halt!
As we headed back to the car, however, it seemed the party was coming back to life: a huge swarm of teens had ducked into the Spanish Arch. Music blared from somewhere and the kids passed plenty of beers around. A few guys were pissing against a wall. Party on!
A day in Dublin
After spending the night at Glenmore House, we drove into Dublin (Baile Áth Cliath) the next morning. Actually, Gavin the cab driver drove us into Dublin, as I insisted that I would not attempt driving in the city. Every travel guide we consulted had the same warning: "A tip on driving in Dublin: don't."
As Gavin drove, he pointed out sights like the Famine Memorial along the Custom House Quay, and the Samuel Beckett Bridge. He told us about the block of buildings that Google owns in the city (they employ 7,000 people there!)
Gavin also mentioned that U2 owns a building there housing the Clarence Hotel, and remarked, "People think U2 are saving the world, but they also have the best accountants in the world to help them hide money from the Office of Revenue!" Meow, Gavin!
We started on Grafton Street which is full of mostly high-end boutiques and designer-label stores.
Meandering onto side streets we found flower stands, a cheesemonger, and souvenir shops. We spent some time wandering before heading to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the Long Room at the Old Library.
(I left a few of my business cards along the way!)
While waiting for our tour time, we had our first pint in an Irish pub — at O'Neill's Pub & Kitchen.
My sister really enjoyed her time spent with a Galway Hooker. (Easy now... it's a pale ale named for a boat!) I had a Rebel Red, which I liked very much indeed.
We got mom to lift a glass too!
The Book of Kells and the Old Library
Back at Trinity, we filed through an informational area about the Book of Kells. The exhibition also held two stone pillars carved with Ogham inscriptions.
Ogham is the earliest written Irish language dating from about the 5th century. On a side note, Vermont has an interesting and mysterious connection to this language. Several small, stone caves with domed roofs exist in Vermont, and some have Ogham inscriptions carved into the stone. There are many competing theories about these caves. Some scientists believe that Celts living in the area built the caves over 2,000 years ago. How intriguing!
We then moved into a shadowy room to view the book itself. The illuminated manuscript, created around 800 A.D., has been at Trinity College since the 1600s. It is a beautifully illustrated piece. It's difficult, in my opinion, to wrap one's head around just how old it is, or how it has survived so incredibly long.
From there we climbed stairs into the Long Room of the Old Library, a breathtaking space stretching out 213 feet with a soaring, vaulted ceiling covering two floors.
Books completely fill the floor-to-ceiling shelves. Marble busts of philosophers and authors line the room. The country's oldest Irish harp, dating to the 15th century is also on display there.
It was dazzling. I took far too many photos and several failed selfies!
After leaving the campus we browsed in the Books Upstairs bookstore and picked up some Irish cookbooks and an Irish-English Dictionary.
Then we strolled to Merrion Square to find Oscar Wilde reclining on a rock—a sculpture that, according to Atlas Obscura, was commissioned by the Guinness Ireland Group and created by artist Danny Osborne.
I loved this column inscribed with quotes from Wilde and topped with a bronze sculpture of his wife Constance.
Lunch at Sheehan's Bar
As we neared the end of our time in Dublin we found our way into Sheehan's Bar, its crimson and black exterior with gold lettering catching our attention from nearby Grafton Street.
Inside the space is cozy and old-fashioned, with dark wood floors and walls, exposed brick, and a low, paneled ceiling. We sat tucked into a corner just off the bar.
There my mother and I had a velvety potato soup served in an enameled tin mug, alongside a corned beef and cabbage sandwich on hearty slices of wheat bread. (Or "wheaten bread" as it's called everywhere in Ireland.)
My sister enjoyed a sandwich of ham, Cheddar, tomato, and onion. It was all so comforting and filling and felt like a truly Irish meal. It was a perfect way to refuel for our long drive to the next destination.
My Ireland posts are dedicated to my mom Kathy and sister Melissa. I loved our time together in Ireland and I love you both!
I just made this for lunch . It is delicious. This will definitely be in my soup repertoire.
Hi Colleen - I hope all's well with you! Thank you for trying my soup and for the lovely feedback. The soup we had in Dublin was so homey and comforting, I like making a batch of this soup to bring back those memories. This is an ideal day for a hearty bowl of hot soup!
Yum! I can't wait to make some of this soup, Nancy. It sounds delicious! Another great post on your Ireland trip!
Heidi, if you make it tell me what you think! It's a great, basic but flavorful soup and you can add toppings if you'd like!