Should You Cook Potatoes Before Adding To Soup Or Stews?


Adding potatoes to soup or stew to achieve your perfect consistency depends on a few factors. Namely, if you should cook them before, when they should be added and the type of potato used.

In most cases, it is best to cook potatoes in the soup or stew rather than before. Add them near the end of the cooking process for perfect consistency. Opt for starchy potatoes for a more crumbly potato, or a waxy potato for more defined potatoes.

Knowing when to add potatoes depends on how long potatoes take to cook and how you want the potato to be experienced in the final dish. I love making comforting potato soups, so I’ll take us through the best ways to cook potatoes in these dishes.

Do I Cook Potatoes Before Adding To Stew?

When making a stew, you are likely aiming to have whole pieces of potato in the dish when you eat it. For this reason, you should add the potatoes towards the end of the recipe. You do not need to cook the potatoes before adding them to your stew.  

To have firm yet done potatoes for your stew, keep them raw until around 30 minutes until the end. Slice the potatoes into cubes and keep them to one side while the rest of your ingredients stew. Rinse the cubes off before adding them to the pot, then let them cook for around half an hour until tender and ready to serve.

Cooking potatoes too much before adding them to a stew will result in mushy potatoes that disintegrate and blend into other ingredients in the pot. See more tips for making stews with potatoes in my post avoiding mushy potatoes in stew.

Suppose you wish to cook your potatoes separately. In that case, it may be beneficial to cook them with a vegetable or meat stock. This will add a little of the flavor that would have been given to the potatoes had they cooked in the pot with the other ingredients.

Do I Cook Potatoes Before Adding To Soup?

Potatoes are usually cooked in the soup rather than before so they soften and absorb the flavors of the soup. They can be added early or near the end of cooking for different results.

If you would like the potatoes to perform as a thickener for your soup, it is best to add them at the beginning. Potatoes that cook for a long time become somewhat disintegrated and are not discernible from other ingredients in the soup. The starch in the potatoes adds a thickening effect to the soup, helping to fill you up.

If you would prefer your soup to have potato pieces as featured ingredients, you will need to add them towards the end of the recipe. If you want to prepare ahead, you can partially cook the potatoes before adding them to the soup in the last few minutes. This also washes off some of the gluey starch.

The type of potato used is important too. Starchy potatoes are larger and fluffy so will disintegrate more easily (e.g. russet potatoes). Waxy potatoes are smaller and have firmer flesh so will hold together in chunks (baby or new potatoes).

Starchy potatoes added early will disintegrate into small pieces

When To Add Potatoes To Soup And Stew

Here is a straightforward way to help you figure out when to add potatoes to your soup and stew:

  • If you want the potatoes to thicken up your soup or stew, you should add them to the pot in the beginning. They will soften and fall apart as they cook to thicken the meal.
  • If you want the potatoes to be in recognized pieces when eating the meal, add them in towards the end to allow them to stay whole and firm. In general, potatoes should be cooked for around twenty or thirty minutes until done.
  • If you would like to partly cook the potatoes before adding them to the pot, you will only need to add them to the other ingredients for five minutes or so.

As you make your soup or stew, consider the size of your potato pieces. The larger they are, the longer they will take to cook. If your potato pieces are bite-sized, they should take around twenty minutes to cook. Try to cut your potato pieces into similar sizes. That way, they will cook evenly.

Counting backward from when you would like to serve your meal, take note of the twenty or thirty-minute mark. Add your potato cubes around that time, and when they are soft and tender, you will know that your soup or stew is ready to be served.

Cooking potatoes in this way is a great way to ensure they are infused with the hearty flavors of the stew while not getting too soft to enjoy.

How Do I Prepare Potatoes For Soup And Stew?

First, wash your potatoes. You can choose whether to leave the skins on or peel them. I wrote about if it was necessary to peel potatoes or not. Leaving the skin on potatoes helps add fiber to your meal. Some people do not enjoy the texture of potato skins in soup and stew. If this is the case for you, peel them before adding to the pot.

Cut the potatoes into similarly-sized cubes. By keeping the sizes similar, you will ensure they cook evenly and at the same rate. The cubes should be about bite-size. This rule applies if you are cooking the potatoes to add bulk to your soup or stew or want to enjoy them as a separate ingredient.

Decide when to add them. If you are adding the potatoes to the soup to add bulk and thickness, simply place them in the pot with the other ingredients. If you would like to keep them whole, keep them aside until around twenty or thirty minutes before you wish to serve your soup or stew.

If the recipe calls for you to cook the potatoes before adding them, add the cubes to a separate pot and boil them for a few minutes until soft. Adding a stock of your choice to the water will add some great flavors during this process.

How Long Do Potatoes Take To Soften In Soup And Stew?

If your potatoes are cut into bite-sized cubes, they will take around twenty to thirty minutes to soften. You will know that your potatoes are soft and cooked when you can easily insert a fork into them.

Try not to overcook potatoes if you wish to keep them firm and whole for the meal you are serving. Overcooking will cause them to fall apart.

Do Potatoes Thicken Soup And Stew?

Potatoes can thicken soup and stews either by cooking long enough until they break down or by blending them. Potatoes are a handy thickening agent, but they are also an excellent alternative for people with gluten sensitivities.

Starch is the key ingredient in thickening dishes. Pick starchy potatoes like russets which are fluffy and soft rather than firm and waxy new potatoes. An average-sized starchy potato contains about 30 grams of starch.

Potatoes thicken soup and stews when we allow their starch to be released. If you want to use potatoes to thicken your meal, add them at the beginning of the cook. The potatoes will become soft and almost dissolve, making the soup or stew rich and thick.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now know if you need to cook potatoes before adding them to soups and stews. Cooking potatoes before adding them is not necessary in most cases. In general, potatoes should be added to soup and stews towards the end.  

One reason for partly cooking them before adding them to the pot of other ingredients is to prevent the potato starch from being added to the mix.

Tom

Hey, I'm Tom. I set up Boss The Kitchen to start answering the thousands of questions people have while cooking. For me, the kitchen is my happy place and I hope to help other people with the knowledge I've gained along the way.

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