My method for making potato soup has evolved drastically over the years, but it continues to be a favored recipe.
As a young adult with a husband, two young daughters, and an extremely small grocery allowance, potato soup was a weekly dinner. My recipe was simple: Combine 1 diced potato, 1 chopped onion, and 1 hotdog, sliced thin into a saucepan with 1 cup of water. Simmer until everything is tender. In a larger saucepan, make a thin white sauce with 2 tablespoons of butter, melted, 2 tablespoons of flour, salt, pepper, and 3 cups of milk. Cook and stir until the sauce just starts to boil, and thickens slightly. Add the cooked potato, onion and hotdog, as well as enough of the cooking water to give it the right consistency. Serve hot, with homemade bread.
It was simple, cheap, and filling. Not, however, the most popular meal in my household. Once, my daughter Jen, then about four years old, asked what was for dinner. When I told her “Potato Soup,” she burst into tears, cried, “I can’t stand it,” and ran to her room!
By the time my daughters were teen-agers, I was divorced. We were living on campus while I finished a degree, and we were once again on a very tight budget. Luckily, my girls had warmed to the idea of potato soup. Then, we often didn’t have meat to add to the soup, but we usually added tiny egg dumplings. We always called them “glompkies,” though I can find no evidence that this is a real word, or that they are an actual thing. “Golumpki,” though similar-sounding, is stuffed cabbage. My glomkies were more like spaetzl, though rather than pushing the noodle dough through a sieve, we just dropped it by small bits into the soup. They cooked in the milky white sauce. I don’t remember where the word, or the idea came to me from, but the little pillows of noodle dough were a lovely addition to the buttery soup.
Now, being slightly more carb-conscious, I don’t add glompkies when I make potato soup. Now, my recipe has evolved to combine many types of cream soup. I may make potato-broccoli soup or cauliflower-potato soup. Chopped kale or spinach adds interesting flavors. I have added red pepper and fresh corn kernels to my basic recipe. If I have a bit of ham or bacon, I’ll throw it in. Usually, I add cheese to my white sauce for a little extra flavor.
No matter what mixture I put together, and what recipe I end up with, potato soup is still a simple, cheap and filling meal. And it comes wrapped with lots of memories!