Use Evaporated Milk In Slow Cooker Potato Soup To Avoid Separation

Just as a dollop of sour cream, butter, and grated cheese are typical toppings for a loaded baked potato, adding a splash of cream to potato soup is a no-brainer. Dairy is a delicious and effective tool for thickening and imparting richness to soups. Stirring milk or cream into a pot on the stove tends to happen at the tail end of the cooking process to prevent curdling, however, if you're making potato soup in a slow cooker, evaporated milk is the best option to avoid separation.

Slow cookers help busy home cooks make hands-off meals with well-developed flavors thanks to their low and slow cooking methods. Unfortunately, heating dairy over long periods of time increases the risk of separation. Also known as "breaking," separation describes the process of milk proteins clumping together in reaction to elevated acidity. Heating dairy products increases this acidity.

Evaporated milk, on the other hand, is made by slowly heating it to reduce the proportion of water molecules to dairy fat and protein. With over half its original water content eliminated, the decidedly different composition of evaporated milk will resist separation in a slow cooker. It's an equal swap for heavy cream that you can add to the slow cooker along with the rest of your potato soup ingredients at the beginning and let simmer away for hours. Plus, its ultra-rich dairy flavor and already thick consistency will enrich the texture and complement the earthiness of potatoes as well as heavy cream.

Tips for a flavorful potato soup

Slow cooker potato soup is simple by definition, with a small ingredient list and a one-pot assembly method. That said, there are a few tips to ensure that slow-cooker potato soup is bursting with flavor. The type of potatoes you choose plays a big role in the taste and consistency of your soup. Yukon golds are ideal because they're a perfect balance of starchy and waxy; they'll hold their shape well for a chunky potato soup, but they'll also blend into a creamy uniform consistency.

Potatoes, evaporated milk, and broth come together for a hearty and comforting blend, but the combination will result in an overly bland profile without proper seasoning. Salt and pepper are essential to complement the earthiness of potatoes and cut through the richness of the evaporated milk; aromatics and more robust baking spices will brighten the profile significantly. Old Bay seasoning, diced onion and garlic, bay leaves, and smoked paprika add spice and herbal savoriness to potato soup; a mirepoix would further develop the depth of flavor. For an umami upgrade, add chopped and fried bacon or diced sun-dried tomatoes.

A dollop of sour cream and sharp cheddar cheese are excellent garnish ideas to add tang and saltiness while also enhancing the creaminess of the soup as they melt into it. Blue cheese crumbles would add a sophisticated funk, while garlic chips and crispy fried onions would add a concentrated aromatic crunch.