A simple yet flavorful and really satisfying potato soup is just the ticket for a lunch or light dinner. This recipe was inspired by the wonderful potato soup I had a local pub in Dublin, Ireland.
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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.
Dinner in Galway
We boarded the ferry from Inishmore back to Rossaveal, squishing into our seats with our bags of island treasures. Especially me, with my bag full of Irish wool sweaters that for some reason I decided not to have the store ship for free. (I have a bad habit of doing illogical things.)
On the ferry I realized that the sound system was not playing the ’80s music we had heard on the ride over but now was broadcasting some sporting event. The announcers were frantic and emotional as they covered the game, quickly throwing in with the changing scores for Limerick and Galway teams.
A couple nights earlier in Donegal we had seen a news story about the national sport of Ireland – Hurling, “the fastest game on grass.” (If you have never seen a hurling match, watch this clip on YouTube now.)
What we were hearing on the ferry was the All Ireland Championship which Limerick had not won since 1973. And their fans were pumped! We were left hanging though, as our ferry arrived before the game ended and we could only wonder if the favored Galway team would take it or if Limerick would pull in their first win in 45 years.
Our next hotel reservation was in Dublin, and we faced a long drive to get there from Rossaveal. We didn’t have enough time for an extended visit to Galway (Gaillimhe) but figured we could at least swing through for dinner. We parked in the area known as the Latin Quarter and 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 sense in the air and in the people hanging around that felt as though… a party had just ended.
There was a listlessness, and debris blowing around on the ground. We didn’t think much of it in the moment (we were hungry) and we continued onto Quay Street.
This is a colorful and vibrant walking mall with restaurants crowding both sides of the street, and a crush of people filing through. There were musicians and dancers performing here and there, too. I wished we had had more time to explore this street, but we 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! We researched later on and I think sweet mayo is mayonnaise mixed with ketchup, but they insist it was 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 that the party was being revived: a huge swarm of teens had ducked into the Spanish Arch with music blaring from somewhere and plenty of beers being passed around. A few guys were pissing against a wall. Party on!
A day in Dublin
After spending the night at the 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 said essentially the same thing. “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 hotel there (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!” Ouch, Gavin!
We started on Grafton Street which is full of mostly high end boutiques and designer label stores.
Meandering off onto side streets we also found flower stands, a cheesemonger, and souvenir shops. We spent some time wandering around before heading to Trinity College to get tickets 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 a Irish pub – at O’Neill’s Pub & Kitchen.
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.)
We then moved into a shadowy room to view the book itself. The illuminated manuscript was created around 800 A.D. and has been at Trinity College since the 1600s. It is a beautifully illustrated piece and, I think, difficult 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 breath-taking space stretching out 213 feet with a soaring vaulted ceiling over two floors.
The shelves are filled from floor to ceiling with books, and 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 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 were tucked into a corner just off the bar.
There my mother and I had a velvety potato soup served in a enameled tin mug, alongside a corned beef and cabbage sandwich on hearty slices of wheat bread. (Or “wheaten bread” as it was called everywhere we went 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.
Creamy Potato Soup: Why you’ll love it
Once home from Ireland I created my own Creamy Potato Soup recipe. It’s a simple potato soup made flavorful with onion, garlic, and cream, and pureed to a silky finish.
It’s delicious with a Corned Beef and Cabbage Slaw Sandwich which I like on a potato roll, but if you can find a soft wheat (wheaten) roll then you can make them even more authentic!
How to make this soup
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: Saute 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, the garlic, onions, and potatoes to a stock pot along with the seasoning. Bring everything to a boil, then simmer the soup for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Step 4: Puree the soup
Use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the soup, until it’s smooth. 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.
- This soup is delicious made with either chicken or vegetable stock, giving you the option of making this soup vegetarian if you would prefer.
The recipe is below, and here are more recipes inspired by my time in Ireland:
>> What do you think of this Creamy Potato Soup? Have you been to Dublin? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Creamy 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
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 ¼ teaspoons ground sage, divided
- 1 cup half and half
- Optional: diced chives or scallions, shredded Cheddar cheese, crumbled, cooked bacon, toasted bread crumbs
- Have a large bowl of cold water ready for the cut potatoes. Wash and peel the potatoes, and then slice them into 1 ½-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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pureé the soup using a stick immersion blender until the soup is very smooth. You can also pureé 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!
- Once the soup is pureéd 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.
- 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!
My Ireland posts are dedicated to my mom Kathy and sister Melissa. I loved our time together in Ireland and I love you both!