The Secret Ingredient To Thicken Instant Pot Cream Of Potato Soup

Cream of potato soup can be a year-round affair. You may not believe us because, when you think of the soup, a big steaming bowl perfect for dipping crusty bread comes to mind. But cool it down and call it vichyssoise, and all of a sudden, you've got a soup that is satisfying and refreshing for hot summer days. Given that utility, it doesn't hurt to know how to whip one up, and one way to cut down the time it takes to bring this soup together is by using an Instant Pot.

However, one potential drawback of using a pressure cooker for making soup is that, because it's sealed, the water mostly condenses rather than evaporates. And the secret ingredient for fixing a thin potato soup is probably in your cupboard right now: instant mashed potatoes. 

Tasting Table recipe developer Michelle McGlinn deploys instant mashed potatoes in her cream of potato soup recipe, which she first cooks in an Instant Pot to make quick work of the fresh potatoes and leeks. After she has sautéed the aromatics and pressure-cooked the veggies — which only takes four minutes — she adds the instant mashed potatoes directly to the soup, where they quickly begin to soften and absorb excess moisture. McGlinn rounds the potage out with both cream and sour cream for lusciousness and a tangy bite that is supremely satisfying.

What are instant mashed potatoes?

Instant mashed potatoes are simply potatoes that have been cooked, pulverized, and allowed to dry into flakes. Depending on your preference, some brands of potato flakes contain small amounts of preservatives and emulsifiers (which are fine for this application), and others include nothing but dehydrated potatoes, such as Bob's Red Mill. While the chunks of potatoes that make up the bulk of the soup will indeed thicken it, the potato flakes are a brilliant and easy way to quickly alter the consistency to your liking. This gluten-free method can be used on a variety of soups, where a touch of potato would be welcome, such as beef stew and chowder

And, lest you think that using potato flakes is a shortcut scoffed at by masters of haute cuisine, none other than the inimitable Jacques Pépin frequently makes use of them when he needs to quickly thicken a soup or sauce. If you just can't find instant mashed potatoes or potato flakes, there is another option. Potato starch is a fine white powder — the pure isolated starch of the potato — and has a neutral flavor.

Beyond cream of potato and other soups, potato flakes have a range of other uses that make them a great item to have on hand. In addition to mashed potatoes, they can be used for shepherd's pie, potato cakes, and to give meats and vegetables a delightful crunch when used as a coating before baking or frying.