Caramelised Onion and pan-fried Potato Soup

Caramelised Onion and pan-fried Potato Soup

Caramelised Onion and pan-fried Potato Soup, with freshly grated Parmesan

Santa must’ve forgotten his Sat Nav last night. Either that or Mrs Claus forgot to include me on his list. It’s not as if I was that bad during the year. I mean, it’s not as if I joined the Conservative Party. Hold on, that would be tantamount to evil – even I’m not capable of being THAT bad. Anyway, to make amends I’m going with two recipes, from fellow bloggers, I decided on making to end the year. This time from the fabulous: COTTAGE GROVE HOUSE. And this is so good I made it for a second time, for my starter of the big ol’ CDay itself. Hmm, as good as the recipe is it’s interesting I seem to have read what I’d wanted to see. In other words, I made the assumption that their post included instructions on pan-frying the potatoes – until cooked. No! That’s just what I completely overlooked or misread. Either way I happen to love this very simple soup. And would never have thought to use, ahem, pan-fried potatoes until fully cooked within a soup in the first place. Regardless of how often I’ve cooked potatoes to get them deliciously crunchy. Just goes to show you. And, just in case, don’t ask me to read the fine print as no doubt I’ll end up creating a tale of sorts. Overactive imagination?! Not exactly. After all, I’ve just written that I would never have thought of going with this soup as is. Which in itself surprises me as I quite often add pan-fried swede (rutabaga), turnip and potatoes in lieu of croutons. And this is no exception as I do love smashing these crunchy and crispy potatoes against the base of bowl or the sides of it…you get the gist! I’m a messy eater. No! Terribly well behaved in polite society. Just not so at a Tory conference – but then, who would notice the difference?!

Caramelised Onion and pan-fried Potato Soup


PREP: about 30 mins ~ COOK: about 30 mins ~ READY IN: 1 hour

ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED: liquidiser or a blender suitable for puréeing soups, in batches if necessary ~ fine grater (microplane) for the Parmesan

  • oil
  • 250g (8.818 oz) x prepared weight onions, trimmed, cut in half lengthways, peeled and sliced from near root end toward stem, turned and root end sliced off and discarded
  • 1 x dried bay leaf, split
  • 500 – 750g (17.64 – 26.46 oz) x prepared weight (Maris Piper) potatoes, peeled and roughly cubed
  • 500ml (16.91 fl oz) x cold water
  • 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
  • 1 x green finger chilli (Scoville heat rating: 50,000 units) – optional
  • 1/4 x teaspoon red pepper flakes – optional
  • Parmesan, freshly grated to serve
  • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to serve
  • single/light cream, to serve – optional

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  1. Put a heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 3 (out of 6) and when pan is hot add enough oil to cover the base of pan. Add the onions, bay leaf and green finger chilli (if using), clamp on a lid and cook for up to 15 minutes, checking about halfway through. Remove lid, stir through and continue to pan-fry the onions until they start to take on a pale golden colour. I can leave mine well alone for most of the time as stirring through often doesn’t seem to help. It’s really according to how heavy the pan is and which heat source you happen to be using. After about 20 or so minutes I normally have to reduce the heat to No 2 and sometimes as low as No 1 to prevent scorching. Do add a splash of water or a little extra oil if the onions are looking too dry. Cook until they’re nicely golden, then set aside. Remove the bay leaf and chilli and reserve. If using red pepper flakes then sprinkle those over after removing the pan from heat.
  2. Either pan-fry the potatoes or roast them. I don’t tend to do the latter as using an electric oven takes forever. To pan-fry I put a heavy-based pan on heat No 3 to initially heat the pan whilst prepping the potatoes. Then the heat is turned up to No 4 before adding any oil. When the potatoes are good to go, and before there’s any sign of the oil smoking, get the potatoes in. They can spit so do take care. Stir through often to prevent sticking to base of pan. Once they start to take on a pale golden colour that’s when I reduce heat to No 3, and if necessary use a couple of forks to turn each potato piece over to make sure they cook evenly. When nicely golden and easily pierced with a fork take off heat and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan with lid add the water and the stock cube. Put on heat No 4 and bring to near boiling point. Making sure the stock cube is fully dissolved. Take off heat and allow to cool sufficiently before liquidising/puréeing the onions.
  4. When cool enough to do so add the onions and the stock to a suitable blender/liquidiser. Blitz until smooth. Pour back into the large saucepan and put back on heat before serving.
  5. When the soup is needed simply put the potatoes back on heat to make sure they’re piping hot. I tend to add some of the potatoes to the soup just before serving, reserving the others to add to the soup to prevent them from going soggy.
  6. Serve with single/light cream and lots of freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Kitschnflavours:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny Hepburn

About these ads

50 responses to “Caramelised Onion and pan-fried Potato Soup

  1. If Mrs. Claus forgot you on the list it must have only been a small lapses, really! In the Papaya Pieces household we’ve been making more soup this winter (just not been making much pictures of them!), so thanks for this crispy potato idea! Thanks for the instructions on crispy potatoes as mine are always somewhat soggy…

    • If you don’t like soggy potatoes then you really should keep them separate from the soup base. Although, I like to add several and smash those just before serving. Then add the nice and crisp potatoes into the soup. Not all at once. That helps to prevent them from going soft. Yes, often my pan-fried potatoes are perfect. Then the occasional time they just won’t be as crunchy as they should be. Or they’ll stick. And I tend to use the same type of potato. As long as they’re not too greasy then I’m okay with them.

  2. I love Cottage Grove House, this soup is a meal, give me a nice salad and I would be a very happy girl, The caramelized onion soup with the crispy potatoes is a beautiful combination. Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

    • You’re right, a nice salad would go very well with this. I’ve been gorging on salad, hummus and pitta recently. Have to find sesame seeds to make my own hummus again, as the local stores aren’t selling them. Off to the superstore within the next week. I just can’t face the idea of all of the hoards rampaging through the sales!

      Likewise, Happy Hols!

  3. Just reading your last comment, do you make your own tahini for hummous? Impressed! I can get really good tahini from nearby organic/health stores so it had never occurred to me to make my own.

    • No, tahini is probably quite difficult to make as you have to soften the husks, soak them in salted water so the husks sink then roast and grind what’s left! To make life simpler I was going to roast the seeds and just roughly grind them with some evo oil. There’s only one type of tahini I can get locally and it’s horribly bitter. Never use it. I’ll have to throw out another half jar of it and it’s even more expensive than it is bitter. Of course, I might be able to buy it at the International store within the next couple of days. As I’m not eating meat I need really good sources of protein that are easy to make :)

  4. I’m partial to fried potatoes myself. Made a big batch yesterday for a xmas eve lunch. Double frying to get them really crunchy. OMG, they were so good!! How could Santa have forgotten you! Anybody who hasn’t joined the Conservative Party can’t be that bad :-). At least not in my book. Feliz Navidad, Johnny! It’s still Christmas here. XOXO, Angie.

    • Aren’t fried potatoes one of the best things! Actually, in the photo the potatoes in the soup were partially roasted on Christmas Eve and then reheated on the hob/stove next day – deliciously crunchy. The others nearby were deep-fried, something I’m loath to do as I don’t like the smell (but they look so much better in photos!). Those are for leftover aloo gobi I’ll be having for a late ‘n lazy lunch. If I get them photographed to update their post >)

  5. Sounds – and looks – very delicious, right up my street with the chunks of potatoes, chilli and parmesan. Bookmarked for trying! And again, I’m quite envious how pretty and full of light your picture turned out.

    • Hope it works out for you if you do try it. The chilli didn’t make any impact whatsoever. Recently the finger chillies I’m getting look better than they are heat wise. If anything the food needs to be stored overnight to get any heat. Besides, the second batch I made without both the chilli and red pepper flakes. Didn’t even miss them! As for the wintry light! The soup itself looks miserably grey and tasteless. Better light today whilst photographing aloo gobi to update its post. Anyway, I’ll be making this soup on a regular basis (it’s that easy for something so good) so I’ll no doubt be grabbing more shots. Hoping Christmas has been/is good for you!

  6. what a very chic-looking soup. Mine are more, ummm, rustic-looking! Don’t think I could produce something as delicate as this but I would love a bowl right now.

    • Well, I thought this was rustic! Actually, a bit of a mess. But that’s sort of how likeable this soup is. It’s not for eating/supping without large napkins! Or is that just the way I slurp!? It’s fun, smashing those crunchy potatoes :)

  7. oh I wish I could just beam a saucepan of soup here, after all that eating soup sounds like a great idea. How many heat levels does your stove have 5?I have 12 levels, which is if I went with a 2 or 3 as described by you, I wouldn’t cook anything through properly – so trying to adapt to your instructions, would love to have nice golden onions, due to frantic impatience I always end up burning my onions because I put the heat on too high.
    Now while soup is good I am too lazy at the moment, so instead I might repair to the kitchen for a nice cup of hot tea and a mince pie :) merry christmas!

    • Ah, must check instructions as I normally state out of 6. That seems to be the norm here in the UK. If there is a knack to caramelising onions it’s partly in using a very heavy-based pan on moderate heat to begin with (with a lid on pan), not stirring very often initially and then reducing the heat as the onions start to take on colour. There are loads of variants! Some add salt – that can and will scorch. I just add a splash of water if they’re drying out too much. And take them off heat if too hot.

      Oh, darn! Still haven’t made my mince pies. Working on a new crumble tonight that I’m hoping to adapt for mince pies toward the weekend :)

  8. That looks very tasty!

  9. Oh, I’m not happy to hear that Santa didn’t make a proper visit. You’re right, it must have been a faulty GPS – tssk tssk. I am happy to find a delicious soup post — caramelized onions & parmesan? I’m so there! — and love the photo. Crispy potatoes are somewhat a holy grail for moi and I shall follow your pan frying method to a T and give it a go.

    • Or do you think he stopped somewhere for a while?! Think I’ll snitch to Mrs Clause. Feel so responsible now – potentially breaking up their rock solid marriage after all those years…stay tuned!

      As you know all to do with caramelising onions you’re going to love this. So simple! And try cooking the soup base without any chilli and stuff, then taste. I thought it would maybe need some fresh parsley – nope! Not even >)

  10. I’m honored! You truly took the soup to the next level of deliciousness. I couldn’t get over the crispy potato idea so I made another pot of this on Christmas Eve. Fabulous! And it still remained simple as I actually roasted the cubed potatoes until crispy, although I think I like the idea of pan fried potatoes a little more. And I really love how you gave it some kick with the chili and red pepper flake. I consider that chunk of parmesan the most gorgeous I have seen. Thank you for the mention and also for “developing” this wonderful soup into an even better one! :)

    • Thrilled that you went with your post on this. Sometimes particular recipes really do jump out of the page. And it’s usually when I sort of think – why hadn’t I thought of that!? Which might help to explain why I accidentally went off on a tangent. As I did read through your instructions. Okay, the night before. As for the chilli, the first batch included a finger chilli which didn’t provide any heat. So I didn’t bother to use it nor red pepper flakes the second time. Didn’t miss them. But, if and when I need a bit of heat then I would use them.

      Thanks for commenting on the rather pricey Parmesan! £14 a kilo!! What happened to prices over here?! And can I use any more exclamation marks in this response…? Stop. >)

  11. Sounds like sweet comfort x

  12. The big guy made a brief stop at our house on Tuesday night, but alas, left nothing for me either Johnny! Not sure what I’ve done to offend him over the past ?? years… a little disappointing really! ;)
    This soup looks really wonderful (LOVE caramelised onion), so will bookmark for when the cooler weather returns – not so keen for hot soups right now… I really must start organising my ever-growing list of bookmarked recipes, so that when the time is right, I’ll be set to try them all out!

    • Seriously?! Tut, tut. I’ll have to have words. Not that I’m the vengeful type! But Santa has been slacking this year….so it seems.

      It’s got to the stage where I can’t find recipes that are bookmarked. That’s how I found A Taste in Winterland’s date and nut loaf again! Looking for something else I couldn’t find. Was just wondering if you have cold soups during your summer months as it’s something I’m not overly keen on. Can’t think of any of mine, including vichyssoise, that would be suitable/likeable. Apart from maybe wild sorrel.

      • I’m not so keen on cold soups either Johnny – though perhaps during our summer months I should explore that idea to at least find one that appeals to me. Somehow I always just associate soups as a winter-warming type of comfort food.
        Thanks for sorting out Santa – much appreciated! :)

  13. I’m down. Oh, yum.

  14. Johnny! Aw, Santa didn’t stop at my house either… I think he’s gotten sick of me not liking the presents he brings (I do often ‘regift’ them though which must be a good thing!). Anyway, I do hope that you had a merry day nonetheless. Did you give yourself a present, other than food?
    LOVE the look of this potato soup. Seana is a star, I love everything she posts! Great interpretation. Those crispy fried potatoes look divine. Hope that you have a fantastic start to the new year Johnny!

    • Are you like me in that it’s impossible to hide the expression on your face on opening gifts? If so it would help to explain why family and friends very, very seldom dared to buy me anything. Usually it was gift vouchers! Those I love :)

      The soup is just great. Perhaps not so in 30+C! However, we’re at least 20 below that so a large bowl of this as a starter on CDay really hit the spot. Perfect for Autumnal weather; especially if you had leftover roast potatoes that needed using up.

      Likewise! Hope you have a fantastic start to ’14! Hold on a sec, Laura – only the friggin’ start of the year?! Without pressies this winter I want more for next year – all year! And hoping it’s better than this one has been.

  15. Love the idea of a creamy onion soup with crispy potatoes for the croutons. So sorry that Santa missed your home, I do hope you got yourself a little something for Christmas.

    • This was simply good. And so nice with the Parmesan – at that price I’m pleased I wasn’t disappointed with it. And, same with Christmas pressies. I was always so notoriously difficult to buy for that most people gave up trying – thankfully :)

      Hopefully heading to at least one of the superstores on Monday – who knows what offers they may have…on littl’ electric grinders. Actually, I’m not sure if those stores sell them. Hmm, some research may be needed. Like which spices to use with very, very sour cranberries I’m cooking right now. Fresh cranberries over here are never very ripe. Oh boy, that sourness won’t shift!

  16. No Santa or conservatives around here. We do love this recipe, though – and the CGH. Best wishes, Johnny! Shanna

    • CGH? I’ve just Googled, and you might be surprised at what came up. Yes, do like this recipe. And it’s a good one for using old potatoes as they always taste better fried. Hmm, just wondering if this will taste good with new potatoes come spring with dried tarragon. With butter they always taste great. Boiled, though. I’ll just have to wait and see if that combination might work >)

  17. I always come to your blog to look at the food. Your photography is enviable! And this soup sounds rather divine.

    • Thank you, Gaby. The soup is so good for something that simple. And it’s fun to sup – if there’s no one looking. Can’t imagine my neighbours care anymore!

      Happy New Year!

  18. Those potatoes look too good! And with cheese and onions? It looks like an uber chic spin off crisps – which is a GOOD THING :D
    Santa drastically reduced my present load this year, but I can’t complain – he still visited (ho ho ho). You need to go knocking on the doors of everyone you know and demand they give you a present or you’ll never cook for them again (that oughta do it ;))

    • But I never cook for them, anyway! Like I’m gonna share. No chance :) Besides, I’d only exchange their pressies online – and shame them at the same time. Yes, I’m that type.
      Happy New Year! Let’s hope ’14′s a good’un!

  19. Love the pan-fried potatoes, I agree using an oven seemed to take forever, but the benefit of using an oven is I don’t really need to tend to them ;) The soup looks so lovely, I wish I can have a bowl right now, weather is really cold lately!

    • Yes, I cheated for the photo. The potatoes in the plate were partially roasted Christmas Eve to save time the next day. Those were finished off in the pan. And the others were deep-fried – oh no! – Christmas Day for my Aloo Gobi the following day.

      Happy New Year, Jasline! Really hoping ’14′s gonna be better :)

      • Ahh, I couldn’t tell! Whether it’s roasted, pan-fried or deep-fried, all sound delicious to me. Happy New Year to you too Johnny! Yes I hope 2014 will be a great year! :)

        • Normally I never bother to cheat for photos. This helped to save time on Christmas Day itself. With pan-fried potatoes I can never get them evenly golden on all sides. Which is why I went for deep-frying those you can see within the frame. Pan-fried would never look as good :)
          You’re probably in the midst of your celebrations. Hope they are/were great!

  20. Although this soups looks absolutely delicious, caramelised onions and all, I’ll settle for that small bowl of pan-fried potatoes please!

    • Hah, you’ve caught me cheating as those potatoes were deep-fried! I can never get pan-fried potatoes to cook to an even golden colour. In fact, there are a couple of partially submerged potatoes in the soup itself that didn’t colour terribly well. Oops, one of these days I’ll get the food looking right :)

  21. I’ve never heard of adding pan-fried potatoes to a soup! I’ve cooked potatoes into a soup, and I’ve added bread/croutons to a finished soup, but never like that—such a lovely idea. :)

    • Hah! If only I could take credit for the idea. I’ve used lots of differing veg as croutons as I’ve never been overly keen on fried bread. But I don’t think I would’ve ever come up with this combination. Partly as the one and only time that I’ve made French onion soup, last summer, was a huge disappointment. Even though I love anything to do with caramelised onions. Yet, I didn’t care for a caramelised red onion jam I made earlier last year. Hmm, doesn’t really figure.
      Oh, there are several recipes on a theme of grapefruit I really want to try. Pomelo salsa is one of them. And a grapefruit cake, from a fellow blogger. If and when I get around to them!

Love your comments and feedback!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s