Table for One

This Simple, Perfect Potato Soup Will Feed Your Soul All Weekend

Bowl food for one.

January 11, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

Table for One is a column by Senior Editor Eric Kim, who loves cooking for himself—and only himself—and seeks to celebrate the beauty of solitude in its many forms.

I love celery seed; it's probably my favorite spice in the drawer. Which is weird because I hate fresh celery—it's cold, fibrous, and unfeeling (and I once read that you actually lose calories just by chewing it).

But eventually Nigella Lawson taught me, through cooking, to appreciate its flavor. To treat it (and its seed) like a spice. Turns out Apium graveolens, once you stop and smell its stalks, has a light herbal quality that wonderfully perfumes whatever you add it to. And so, began my life-long journey cooking with it as an ingredient (rather than despising it on its own) in all manner of dishes, including risotto, stew, and this potato soup.

This soup came about because I like soup. A lot. For a variety of reasons. But Lawson said it best in this NPR interview, where she talks about "bowl food" (food you eat out of a bowl): "I like the feeling of eating when every spoon or forkful is reassuringly the same as the last...And then, of course, there are days when chewing feels like too much and I'm very happy to have soup."

On those days when even chewing can feel like too much, it helps to have a recipe that's as easy to cook as it is to eat—or, er, drink. For this soup, all you do is throw everything into a pot, boil it for a bit, and then puree it. The rewards for this minimal amount of effort are maximal: You have something warm and comforting to eat through the entire weekend.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Something to use up celery! I tend to make soups which are a cross between a soup and a stew. I'll puree a little with an immersion blender but I like to have some texture. ”
— sf-dre

And should you have any left over, soup travels particularly well in a thermos, which means you can take it to work and sip it at your desk.

Cooking for one doesn't just mean single portions of chicken breasts or plates of risotto you only eat once. It also means keeping simple recipes like these in your repertoire so that you can sustain yourself throughout the week. This time of year, I love having a big Dutch oven full of potato soup waiting for me at home, either to have on its own with crusty bread, or as a makeshift appetizer while I cook myself something more substantial to eat—like fish, steak, or more soup.

I like the feeling of eating when every spoon or forkful is reassuringly the same as the last.
Nigella Lawson

Soup is the one thing I wouldn't want to make just one bowl of anyway, especially when it's as aromatic as this one (even though you only need a handful of ingredients for it: celery, celery seed, potato, onion, and stock). But the thing I love most about this recipe is that it lets me use up all that leftover celery sitting at the bottom of my crisper drawer.

Raise your hand if you've ever bought an entire head of celery, only to be asked by a recipe for two measly ribs? A stalk of celery is always so much cheaper than any of the pre-chopped, pre-sticked packages you can find at the store these days, which is why I never buy the latter.

Here's where you can put the other seven to eight ribs to use, finally, and enjoy a solo night of endless not-chewing.

(1) Did you know that celery seeds are so small that you only need an ounce to plant an acre?
(2) In your opinion, do you eat or drink soup? Let us know in the comments below.


sf-dre January 16, 2019
Yay! Something to use up celery! I tend to make soups which are a cross between a soup and a stew. I'll puree a little with an immersion blender but I like to have some texture.
Author Comment
Eric K. January 18, 2019
Love a textural soup.
Mika January 12, 2019
Made this the other day and it was excellent! So creamy! I didn't realise that celery could pack such an umami punch.
Author Comment
Eric K. January 12, 2019
That makes me so happy. Who knew, huh?
Mika January 14, 2019
My partner thought I put truffle oil in the soup - but nah, it was just celery!<br />
Author Comment
Eric K. January 14, 2019
Ha! I love that.
Sonji January 11, 2019
The recipe looks delicious! Thank you for sharing. I will try!
Author Comment
Eric K. January 11, 2019
Thanks, Sonji!
Stephanie B. January 11, 2019
Hmm...if you also don't enjoy eating celery (I hate celery) but like this soup, maybe I'll give it a try.
Author Comment
Eric K. January 11, 2019
Let me know how it goes!
Author Comment
Eric K. January 11, 2019
(I feel that there's a big difference between eating celery and <em>tasting</em> celery.)
porsha January 11, 2019
I think whether you categorize soup consumption as eating or drinking depends on how the food is entering your mouth.<br /><br />If you're consuming via spoon - that would be eating.<br /><br />If the soup is going straight from the vessel to your mouth - that would be drinking, same as drinking a beverage.
Author Comment
Eric K. January 11, 2019
Your logic is sound. But does that mean you're "eating" water if you consume it with a spoon?
Lyrajayne January 14, 2019
Absolutely. Bringing a containment vessel such as a bowl or cup directly to the lips for consumption is drinking. Transporting the consumable via utensil is eating. Chewing may or may not happen, regardless of method. <br /><br />