September 25, 2009

Potatoes & Arugula Potato Soup

I dug the potato crop today, which is always an adventure: forking over and fingering through the soil, finding tubers hidden away all summer is like a treasure hunt. The yields this year were mediocre, a result of odd weather and perhaps also the spot where they were growing, which is the "boney-est" part of the garden. (Boney is a very apt Vermont term for rocky soil.) In the photo above, those large rocks came out of the potato rows; rocks are a prolific crop here in northern Vermont, where frosts heave them out of the ground. I've sometimes had to use a pry bar to lever a huge rock out of the ground, then rolled it with difficulty out of the garden.

The three varieties shown are, from the left Dark Red Norland, a white fleshed early potato great for summer potato salads; Carola, a yellow fleshed excellent keeper whose rich flavor makes it my favorite potato; French Fingerling, with yellow flesh and pretty red specks, is waxy and creamy and makes the best boiled potatoes ever. I adore potatoes, cooked every which way: baked and boiled and mashed and roasted, in soups and stews and salads. A home grown potato is not the same vegetable as those industrial farmed tubers you buy at the supermarket; the taste is of another order.

I thought I'd share a favorite soup recipe that I like to eat this time of year: Arugula Potato Soup, from Marcella Hazan's More Classic Italian Cooking. She says this is called a "poor man's soup" because of the potatoes and stale bread, and arugula which grows wild in the fields.

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (around 2 cups)
3 cups water
2 cups arugula leaves
2 cups cut up stale french or italian bread (I use my home-made sourdough)
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup green, fruity olive oil

Put potatoes and water into pot, bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes till half done.
Add arugula and salt, cover pot and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, then turn off heat.
Put in bread and let sit for 10 minutes, covered.
Add liberal amount of pepper, and olive oil.

The amounts above are just a guide. I usually use lots more arugula in proportion, making a double recipe without quite doubling the water because I like the soup to be very thick. You can use more or less of each ingredient to your taste. The olive oil makes the soup extra delicious.


  1. My friend Rosie put me on to your blog last week and I have had such a great time reading, marveling at your paintings and rugs - admiring your garden and its fruits! Thank-you! I made your zucchini loaf and Rosie and I toasted you with our cups of tea, munched on the walnuty-raisiny goodness and talked about your art, the difficulties of growing things and suchlike. Now I see your potato and arugula soup and it is timely - we are just getting sweet new potatoes on this side of the world and I have lots of sorrel so maybe that would do...?
    Thanks again,

  2. Carolyn, I've never thought to try sorrel with this recipe since I have so much arugula. But I also have lots of sorrel, for which I have a different recipe. Perhaps I should do a sorrel post before it dies back; or maybe I'll wait till spring, when the new sorrel is especially appreciated.

    glad you're enjoying the blog, and Rosie too.

  3. Hey altoon -- thanks for this recipe -- since we don't have arugula I used rainbow chard -- I made it last week and we both loved it -- as we still have lots of chard and potatoes I made it again tonight -- it's sitting now. Next I intend to make the red lentil soup -- what I liked about both is how very simple they are. James (Stuart says: beautiful photo)

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  6. Can't wait to try it on a cold winter day.