This was the first of my experiments with “cooking food in the jar” … right as it cans! It’s a raw-pack soup, so that means I start out from a different angle than your typical hot-pack soup does … but we all end up in the same place in the end! And–thanks to how easy and tasty it is–it instantly became a staple in our house! It’s also become popular with my canning friends–online or otherwise–so rather than continue to post this recipe over and over again on discussion lists or email out endless copies … I decided that–even though I don’t have pictures right this minute of the process–I’m going to go ahead and put the write up here anyway, even though I’m not actually making any this week. That way anyone who wants it can find/bookmark/use it when they need it
This soup is designed to be made in quarts. I suppose you could make it in pints by simply halving the recipe. There’s nothing really ticky in it, so it should work. However, I haven’t tried it … so I can’t vouch for it 100%.
Beyond that, this soup also scales up and down really well. Other than the potatoes, you measure your ingredients straight into the jar. Therefore, base the number of quarts you’re going to make on the number of potatoes you’re willing to peel in one sitting. How big’s the hole in your pantry? You can make four quarts or forty. Your choice!
I basically stage all my jars together on a table. Then, in each quart jar, I add:
- 1/2 cup diced onions
- 1/4 cup diced bell peppers
- 1/4 cup thinly-sliced celery
- 1 heaping tablespoon bacon bits
- 1 tablespoon dried onions
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 grinds fresh pepper
- 1/2 cup blanching water***
- blanched potato chunks
- fresh boiling water
Prepare your potatoes for canning according to UGA/NCHFP directions (i.e.: peel, cube, soak in ascorbic acid solution, blanch 2 minutes in boiling water, drain), but retain the blanching water*** when you drain them. They say get rid of it in other preparations because it’s too starchy. However, you WANT/NEED a little of that starch in your potato soup … so don’t pour it out quite yet!
Yes, you need dried onions in addition to the fresh onions. They have two different flavor profiles, and think about it this way … you’re basically adding onion powder when you add those dried onions. It’s just in chunk form. And if you don’t have fresh ground black pepper, just use one or two slight shakes of the pre-ground stuff. You don’t want it too peppery, just a little to flavor the potato chunks as they cook. Pepper is always best added fresh on top of potato soup anyway, and a little pepper goes a LOONNNGG way when it’s trapped in a canning jar.
Once you have all your miscellaneous ingredients measured into each jar, then loosely add blanched potato chunks until they come up to where the shoulders of the jar start to curve. DO NOT PACK OR SHAKE DOWN! I made that mistake in one batch … and ended up with two failed jars. That’s because potatoes definitely expand and shrink during the canning process, as does the water itself … so they REALLY need room to move in the jar here.
Add boiling water to the jar, bringing the overall volume up to a one-inch headspace. Clean the lip, cover with a rubber-gasketed lid and ring, and place in prepared pressure canner. Process according to the directions for “Soup” from the UGA/NCHFP website: 75 minutes for quarts at sea level.
To eat, pop open the jar. Dump the contents into a soup pot. Fill the jar half full of cold water. Add 2 tablespoons cornstarch, reclose, then shake to mix and get all the remaining tasty bits out of the jar. Pour everything into the pot. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup whipping cream or half-and-half. Bring it to a boil … and chow down! It’s just that easy, and it takes 10 minutes to boot
If you want cheese, add 1/2 to 3/4 cups shredded cheese (your choice) to the hot soup, adding it slowly, and stirring as you go to melt.
This soup can also be used as a base for many popular soups and chowders. For example:
- add 3/4 pound fresh or frozen non-breaded catfish fillets into your soup pot along with the jar of soup. Bring it to a boil and cook for a few minutes until the fillets are cooked through and flaky. Then pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of whipping cream or half-and-half into the jar, add an equal amount of water and two tablespoons of corn starch, then shake to mix. Add to soup and heat until thickened.
- add one 6.5 ounce can of chopped clams (juice and all) into your soup pot along with the jar of soup. Continue with the remaining potato soup recipe above, but add 1/2 stick of butter to the hot stew, and use three tablespoons of cornstarch instead of two.
- what’s your favorite potato-based chowder? Once you open that jar, you can add anything you like!
Here’s what a completed jar looks like: