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Potato Soup

1 large yellow onion (1 cup), peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups potato cooking water
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

One-Pot Quick Method, cook diced potatoes, onion, and 2 cups stock
in the microwave. Add 1 tablespoon butter or 1 tablespoon olive
oil and 2 cups milk to the cooked potatoes, transfer to a blender
and puree. Transfer to a soup pot, and continue as directed in
recipe.

Traditional Method, put the diced potatoes and 6 cups water into
a 6-quart pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and bring to a boil.
Cover and cook the potatoes until they are soft. Drain and save
the water. (Strain out any potato chunks.) While the potatoes are
cooking, cook the onion in butter or oil in the soup pot over low
heat until onion is translucent and softened, about 5 minutes.
Put the potatoes, onions, stock (in batches if necessary), and milk
into a blender (not a processor) and puree. If you need more liquid,
add reserved potato cooking water. When the potato is pureed, return
it to the soup pot. Cook over medium low heat, stirring often. Add
reserved potato cooking water (or more milk) until it is the
consistency you like. Add pepper flakes and 1/4 cup parsley, turn
the heat to simmer, and cook about 3 - 4 minutes to blend the
flavors. Add more potato water or milk if soup is too thick. Taste
and add salt if necessary.

Variations:

Potato Peanut Soup: add 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter and garnish
with toasted, chopped, dry-roasted peanuts.

Potato Leek Soup: substitute sliced leeks for onion.

Vichyssoise: transfer soup to a non-reactive metal, glass, or
plastic container, cover with plastic wrap laid directly on the
soup, and refrigerate until well chilled. Serve in glass bowls, if
possible, and garnish with a slice of lemon and chopped chives or
parsley.

Add grated Cheddar or Parmesan cheese, or sliced carrots or celery,
or a flavorful herb such as tarragon, or cooked smoked sausage or
ham, or hard smoked salmon (at the very end). Its rich base flavor
is just asking for leftovers. To serve, ladle into preheated bowls
and garnish with remaining parsley or toasted peanuts.

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