Summa minutiae

A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought. — Lord Peter Wimsey

Everyday potato soup

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8 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 quarts water or stock of choice
3 onions, sliced
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter or oil of choice
4 teaspoons chopped parsley (or chervil)


  • Put the potatoes into a soup pot. Add the water and onions and cook over low-medium heat, covered, for about 45 minutes.
  • With a hand masher, mash the potatoes in the soup pot. Add the milk, salt, and pepper, and mix the soup, then reheat.
  • Just before serving, add the butter and parsley. Stir and mix well. Serve hot during the cold weather and cold during the warm weather. When soup is served cold, oil must be used instead of butter.

This simple little recipe for potato soup has become one of our favorites. I chose it for lunch a few weeks ago because it looked nice and cheap—a few potatoes, an onion, a cup of milk, and you’re off. It doesn’t seem promising at first glance but once everything has cooked together, it somehow becomes a beautiful soup. You can adjust the amount of each ingredient depending on the state of your pantry and the calendar distance to your next payday: the first time I made it, I got by just fine with four potatoes and one red onion.

Today we were out of parsley but we have a batch of chives growing in the window in the dining room, so that went in as garnish. Afterwards I sighed and said, “This stuff is unusually filling,” which made the 12-year-old laugh—apparently I’ve said that after every batch we’ve eaten.

The recipe is taken from Br Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette’s Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, which I think was a gift from one of us to the other.