old fashioned potato soup

Old-Fashioned Potato Soup

This Potato Soup was my Dad’s favorite. Growing up in a large family through the Great Depression, he learned to love simple foods. Even in his later years, he still requested them.

As a little girl, I remember Dad coming home from Philadelphia or New York City after hauling a load of coal from Indianhead Breaker in Tremont, Pa. (Schuylkill County) in his tractor-trailer and me running out to greet him, climbing up into the cab to ride to the top of the driveway where he parked.

I waited all day for my Pop to come home. I was like a puppy listening to hear the sound of that diesel coming around the turn, crossing the railroad tracks by our house – empty trailer rattling over each rail – then slowing down to turn into our dirt drive.

Rain, snow or sun, I ran outside, down the walk, and climbed up into the passenger side of the cab. “Ready?” Pop would ask and I squirmed in anticipation of him taking off up the drive.

As much as I liked the ride, the big thrill was seeing my Pop at the end of the day and knowing his prized red Mack was named after me — “Miss Lori Ann” was painted on the front bumper.

Almost once a week, Mom had a pot of this soup simmering and ready for him when he arrived home. His eyes would light up seeing this as if he were going to be sitting down to a gourmet meal. As I grew older and took over the kitchen, I made this for him many, many times.

Simple is best

This is not meant to be a thickened potato soup, but rather a very simple one found in Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine that consists of a thin, milky broth filled with potatoes – easy and very budget friendly.

This recipe calls for including chopped hard-cooked eggs in the soup (Dad loved it this way). If you do not like, or do not eat, hard-cooked eggs, you can omit them, but I recommend adding them otherwise.

You can garnish with crumbled fried bacon, chives, paprika…your choice, but keep in mind, this is meant to be a very simple dish; once you start adding other ingredients, you no longer have this wonderfully basic, traditional soup.

My Pop always ate his potato soup topped with a healthy dose of black pepper, a pat of butter and a handful of oyster crackers floating on top.

Old-Fashioned Potato Soup

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: Soups, EntreesCuisine: Pa. Dutch, Coal RegionDifficulty: Easy

A simple and filling soup made from everyday pantry items.


  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided plus additional for garnish

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 1 rib celery diced fine (including some leaves if available)

  • 6 large general purpose potatoes, peeled and diced in to 1/2 inch dice (about 2 pounds)

  • Water

  • 3 cups whole milk OR 1-1/2 cups whole milk and 1- 12 ounce can full fat evaporated milk (NOT condensed milk)

  • 3 hard cooked eggs, peeled and roughly chopped

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • OPTIONAL: Fresh or dried parsley for garnish


  • Cook the onions and celery in 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until softened but not browned.
  • Add potatoes and JUST enough water to cook (just barely to the top of the potatoes). Season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low.  SIMMER until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Watch that you do not boil too hard and cook the pan dry. Do not drain.
  • Add the milk, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat just until hot, do not boil.
  • Stir in the chopped eggs, serve with another pat of butter on top if desired and sprinkle of parsley and/or black pepper.


  • If you choose, you can use a potato masher to mash some of the potato cubes to thicken slightly, but this soup is meant to be thin.