“I understand that this might be a tough sell. But bear with me because it’s miraculous. There’s nothing humble about this soup’s rich, creamy flavour – it tastes, remarkably, like mushrooms. And if it seems just a little too pared-back, it’s very easy to jazz it up with some nice finishing touches (see below). Make sure the potatoes are well scrubbed before you peel them so the peels are very clean.” Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Author.
20 g butter, or rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
1 bay leaf
About 200 g potato peelings
500 ml whole milk
500 ml chicken or veg stock
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve (optional)
Fried sage leaves
1 Heat the butter or oil in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat and add the onions, bay leaf and a good pinch of salt. Sauté gently, until the onions are soft but haven’t taken on much colour, about 10 minutes.
2 Add the potato peelings and give everything a very good stir for a minute.
3 Pour in the milk and stock, season well with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the peels are very tender – another 10 minutes or so.
4 Remove from the heat and cool slightly, then purée in a food processer, blender or using a stick blender until very smooth.
5 Return the soup to the pan and reheat gently. Season well with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped parsley, if using.
6 Serve in warmed bowls, topped with fried sage leaves and shards of crisp-grilled bacon, if you like. Finish with a generous grinding of pepper.
Tips and swaps
1 Top with an egg: Float a poached egg on each portion and sprinkle the crispy bacon on top of it, if you like.
2 Chowder-y option: Add a handful of cooked sweetcorn and some leftover smoked fish or cooked ham or bacon.
3 Parsnip or carroty version: You can use other root peelings as well as potatoes – especially parsnips and carrots. But keep it 50 per cent spud or it can become too sweet. A good pinch of cumin goes well with a multi-root version.
Recipes & images taken from River Cottage: Love Your Leftovers by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, published by Bloomsbury.