On Tuesdays I often stop at Zupas to grab a salad, which I eat while I work in the office (because not all of my time at the library is on a desk; when I have office time I get to work without being interrupted by questions). I actually don’t really love salads (I know, take away my girl card), but I like Zupas’ salads because they have tons of different stuff in them. (Stuff I didn't have to cook, chill, chop, and dice.)
I feel a bit virtuous getting a salad, because what I really want is a big bowl of (cream-based) soup. As soup has fewer veggies and more calories, I try not to get it very often. But a few weeks ago, the girl dishing up the soup gave me a sample of the Southwest Potato soup…and oh my. I couldn’t stop thinking about it! So, on another Tuesday, I gave in to my base, feral instincts and had a big bowl of soup, instead of the salad.
It was delicious, but needed a few tweaks, I thought. So yesterday, I tried to make my own. And since it turned out so good (despite my boys’ comments…they always complain when I make soup, and the “big boy” is the very worst) I thought I’d write down the recipe here so I can make it again.
Zupas Southwest Potato and Green Chili Soup copycat
5 pounds red potatoes
scoop of chicken base
1 white onion
1 cube butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cans chicken broth
2 cups half & half
1/2 cup cream
4 cups milk
1 16-oz bag sweet corn kernels
1 can mild green chilies
1 can hot green chilies
cumin, white pepper, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt to taste
Peel and dice the potatoes into bite-sized chunks (not tiny squares; you want the potatoes to be chunky but also not TOO big). Add the chicken base and garlic to a pan of water and cook the potatoes until just barely tender. Drain, but keep some of the potato-cooking water. Spread the potatoes on a big baking sheet so they don’t keep cooking. Meanwhile, in the pan you will finish the soup in, melt the butter. Dice the onion and let it simmer in the butter on low heat. (You don’t want the onions to caramelize but to be very soft.) Blend the onions and butter until smooth. Return to the pan. Whisk in the flour, then cook the roux until golden. Slowly add the chicken broth. Measure the milk into a glass measure (I am estimating on the cream/milk/half & half ratio, as it doesn’t really matter; more cream makes it creamier) and put it in the microwave for 3 or 4 minutes. (This is an essential step when making a cream-based soup. If you add cold milk to the hot roux, the soup will be grainy instead of creamy. It doesn’t have to be boiling, or even hot; just warm.)
Bring the roux and broth mixture to a boil. Meanwhile, cook the corn in the left over potato water. Slowly whisk the warmed milk into the chicken-broth base. Bring to a simmer (but be careful not to boil). Add the spices to your taste. Drain the corn, then add it to the soup along with the chilies. Adjust spices as necessary. Add potatoes and bring back to a simmer.
Serve with pepper jack cheese and guacamole. (Or, do it like Zupas, with bacon crumbles and tortilla strips on top.)
One note about this recipe: I make a different potato soup (still cream based, but with different flavors) and I’ve always made it with russet potatoes. I will NEVER make a potato soup with russets again! The red potatoes hold their shape so much better, so you feel like you get bites of potato, instead of mushy blobs. Delicious!
Also, you could substitute diced jalapeños for the chilies if you wanted more spice.
If you'd like to print this recipe, here's a PDF: Download Zupas Southwest Potato and Green Chili Soup Copycat