This is THE most flavorful potato soup recipe without bacon! We have a couple of tricks up our sleeve to infuse it with some smoky umami flavor while keeping it vegetarian, and you will love the result. This is creamy, comforting, easy and cheap to make – everything you want from a potato soup!
Potato soup! What could be more perfect for a carb lover in the cooler months? I set about transforming our garden potato haul into the perfect vegetarian potato soup and this recipe is where I landed, after many attempts.
How to make an awesome potato soup without bacon or ham
I know that some people are accustomed to having bacon or ham in their potato soup so I wanted to come up with a potato soup that didn’t just leave out meat, but actually looked for some ways to infuse a little hit of smoky umami flavor in a vegetarian way.
So what is the plan? We prepare a fairly straightforward creamy but textured potato soup, add smoked cheddar cheese (or normal cheddar + smoked paprika) and then a whole load of fried garlic slices (both in, and on top of, the soup!).
It’s pretty epic, if I do say so myself.
And our extra little touches don’t make the soup too expensive, or too difficult to make, so it’s a really easy win.
This soup, like any soup, is very customizable.
- Potatoes: Floury potatoes are great here, but you can use whatever you have. If you have waxy potatoes the texture will be a little different but still great.
- Onion: Red, white, brown, anything goes here.
- Carrot: I love the sweetness of carrot here, but you can leave it out if you don’t have one and don’t want to buy a whole bag.
- Garlic: We go TO TOWN with the garlic in this recipe. Minced garlic is sauteed in with the onion and carrot to form part of the base. Then we make crispy fried garlic to add at the end.
- Herbs de Provence (Provencal Herbs) Mix: This herb mix is super tasty, adding lots of flavor to the soup.
- Vegetable Stock: I use boullion cubes to create my stock. We need a fair bit of salt in this recipe, and the cubes help things along the way. If you’re using homemade vegetable stock just make sure to salt the soup generously.
- Sour Cream: is better than normal cream for this recipe, for sure. Where regular cream dilutes flavor a little, sour cream adds some depth and tang.
- Smoked Cheddar or Gouda: One of our star ingredients, smoked cheese adds the flavor, richness and smokiness the soup needs to soar. But it’s OK to use regular cheddar + a bit of smoked paprika. It is still a super tasty soup when made that way! I use an inexpensive smoked cheddar (the kind where liquid smoke is added to cheese rather than the cheese being actually smoked) and that works perfectly here. We do not need to be overly concerned with the origins of our smoked cheese when we’re just going to grate it and put it in a soup.
This potato soup is made without a roux
Many of the thick and creamy potato soup recipes I see are helped along by a roux for creaminess. I am more than happy with the creaminess we can achieve with sour cream, cheese and by mashing the potatoes in the pan.
See? Plenty creamy! And it also makes it much simpler to make.
It really is an easy soup to put together on a weeknight! Served with bread and/or salad, it makes a great autumn or winter dinner.
Storage & Reheating
Extra portions store well in the fridge for 4-5 days, or freezer for 3-6 months. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Note that on reheating from frozen the texture may not be quite the same, but it’s still tasty!
More Potato Ideas
The Best Vegetarian Potato Soup
- 2 lbs (900 g) potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 1 tbsp herbs de provence
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
- 4 cups (1 l) vegetable stock
- 7 oz (200 g) smoked cheddar cheese, or normal cheddar + 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ cup (120 ml) sour cream
- Heat a glug of olive oil in a soup pot or large saucepan, over a medium heat. Saute the onion and carrot until soft.1 large onion, 1 small carrot
- Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant. (Do not add the sliced garlic – this is for later!)4 cloves garlic
- Add the herbs de provence, salt and the potatoes and mix everything together. If you are using smoked paprika instead of smoked cheese, now would be the time to add it.1 tbsp herbs de provence, 2 tsp salt, 2 lbs potatoes
- Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20- 30 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft and starting to break up.4 cups vegetable stock
- Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes down further and add creaminess to the soup, while retaining some texture and chunky bits.
- Now prepare your fried garlic. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a small saucepan – just enough to cover it. Add the garlic slices and fry until just browned.6 cloves garlic
- Add the garlic slices to the soup, reserving a few for garnish if you wish.
- Remove from the heat and stir through the smoked cheddar until melted through.7 oz smoked cheddar cheese
- Add the sour cream, mixing through until the soup is creamy.1/2 cup sour cream
- Cover and let the soup sit for 5-10 minutes before serving to let the flavors come together.
- Serve! You can garnish with some reserved fried garlic, chives and a swirl of sour cream if you wish.