Potato Crouton

Potato Crouton Recipe


I like a bit of crunch in my soups, and I'm sure I'm not alone. More often than not, the crunch comes in the form of a bready crouton. I was forced to rethink my favorite crouton recipe late one night a couple years back - I had a nice pot of soup simmering, and no baguette in sight. Lacking any sort of bread product to toast into a crouton, I scanned my kitchen and focused on a lonely sweet potato. That night I cut the sweet potato into tiny cubes and crisped the little guys in a skillet before sprinkling them across bowls brimming with a hearty, curried wild rice soup. Delicious. I ended up including the sweet potato crouton recipe (and the soup!) in my book, and began thinking of all the other ways to bring crunch to my favorite soups and salads. I wanted to share this story with you not only because a new recipe came out of the experience, but also because it was an example of how being limited can force you out of typical cooking routines, and help spark creative discoveries.

After the sweet potato experiment I started thinking about other things that might excel in the role of crouton, and have since come up with a whole palette ingredients that I turn to. The most exciting benefit of broadening my crouton palette has been my ability to now bring more seasonal texture to many of my recipes. I'm also able to explore more interesting flavor combinations. The other bonus, is that these actually take LESS time to make than bread-based croutons, for those of you concerned about time commitment.

So....more than anything else, I thought this post might spark creative inspiration in your own kitchens - starting with the humble crouton. Since my sweet potato experiment I've crisped up pans of cubed summer pattypan squash, all variety of potatoes, marinated tofu cubes, and Halloumi cheese. Let me know if you have other alternative crouton recipe ideas - I can't wait to read what you come up with. You all blew me away with your shortbread recipe ideas the last time around!

crouton recipe

I've included a basic potato crouton recipe below, but I encourage you to try the sweet potato version later in the year as well! This time around (see photos), I simply threw some beautiful Nameko mushrooms from Far West Funghi into the hot skillet at the last minute, and served it with the "croutons" on top of some beautiful, lightly dressed purple salad greens topped with few pretty-and-edible marigolds from White Crane Springs Ranch.

 
 
 
 

Potato Crouton Recipe

The key is cutting potatoes into tiny cubes so they cook quickly. Less starchy potatoes work better than starchy potatoes - I've experienced good results with the purple Peruvians potatoes and some of the smaller new potatoes. Russets and the like will work, they just turn out a but gluey before they eventually crisp up. If you do a big batch of these, I suspect they will freeze well. I froze the leftovers from this batch and will give a go at reheating them. I know 1/3-inch dice is a strange size to call for in a recipe, but 1/4-inch seems too small for me, and 1/2-inch too big. You can also substitute sweet potatoes or summer patty pan squash for the potatoes.

scant 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups potatoes, 1/3-inch dice
pinch of salt
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the potatoes and toss so they are coated with the oil. Sprinkle with the salt. Now cover the skillet and let the potatoes cook through, this will take about three minutes. The water in the potatoes will help steam and soften them. When the potatoes are just cooked through ( not mushy or falling apart) remove the lid and give them a good toss. Turn up the heat to medium-high and stir every minute or so until the potatoes look golden and crispy. Add the garlic about halfway through the browning process if you like. Season with more salt to taste. Let cool a bit before using on salads to avoid wilting the leaves.

Makes 1 1/2 cups of potato croutons.

Print Recipe

For new recipes & inspirations

Your Comments


Michael Natkin
August 26, 2007

Oh yeah crunch!! I read in Michel Richard's Happy In the Kitchen that his friends call him "Captain Crunch" because he puts something with a snap in almost every recipe. One of the things I always turn to is some quick-toasted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), which I just pan roast for maybe 30 seconds in a cast iron skillet and sprinkle on just before serving. A good sea salt like Maldon also adds an aspect of crunch.

Michael Natkin
The Herbivoracious Blog

 

Andy
August 26, 2007

I like doing this with plantains and making tostones. They add a great crunch to soups or salads.

 

Debbie
August 26, 2007

These look great! They look like the "Potatoes O'Brien" some cafes serve out here in LA for Sunday brunch. The flowers you used are beautiful, but you might want to be more specific about which versions are edible and where to get them. I've always heard the common garden varieties of marigolds are poisonous (and supposedly good for getting rid of some insect pests--mosquitoes? can't remember).

 

Pille
August 26, 2007

What a neat idea!!

 

sophie
August 27, 2007

I like mixed seeds toasted with chilli/seasoning/spices/herbs (some or all of these) for my soup crunch. Partly because they are fairly healthy but mainly because I always have some stored away in a jar in the cupboard for sprinkling on salads and all kinds of other dishes. Chopped, freshly toasted nuts are also very tasty, especially for thick, spicy winter soups.

 

Krista Jo
August 27, 2007

My folks told me about a grilled (lettuce and all) Caesar salad they had awhile back with crispy polenta croutons. I've been wanting to try some - haven't worked much with polenta.

 

lucette
August 27, 2007

I like this idea. A split pea soup would be awfully good with potato and red pepper croutons for color.
Also--that's a beautiful dish in the photo--it looks vintage.

 

Jennifer
August 27, 2007

This is a great idea! My sister was recently diagnosed with ciliac, a gluten intolerance. She can't have regular croutons anymore, but these should make her happy!!

 

diane
August 27, 2007

I like to add a little shallot to my potato 'croutons' (Never called them THAT before..hehe) and sprinkle over.. well.. just about anything. :)

Another option is to crisp up some flat bread and crumble (or leave whole) with a soup.. delicious. And last but certainly not least, homemade bacon (yes.. bacon bits!) I love a strip of crispy bacon with many things I cook. Pancetta can be substituted of course. Thick cut allows a small cube shape.

 

Rose
August 27, 2007

Never thought of putting Home Fries (*wink*) in my soup! Sounds yummy. It would probably add some dimension to Irish Potato Soup. Wonder how toasted Gnocchi would fare?

 

mary
August 27, 2007

Brilliant! I like a variety of textures in my soups and salads, too.

 

Matilda
August 27, 2007

Beware of putting potatoes in the freezer - they usually turn mushy when defrosted later.

 

Chef Tom
August 27, 2007

This recipe sounds simple yet tasty! I absolutely love your presentation. Being that it's lunch time, now I'm even more hungry !!! :-)

 

Jim
August 27, 2007

Lovely idea! I never would have come up with something like this--good thing I read things from the professionals. :)

 

hannah
August 27, 2007

i love the sound of your Recipe

 

Melissa
August 27, 2007

I just saw a recipe recently for polenta croutons, but I haven't tried it yet! You could fry or bake them to get them to be crispy enough to suit your tastes. You could also mix ingredients in with the polenta to get some interesting tastes.

 

almost vegetarian
August 27, 2007

I'm with you - I love a nice mix of textures. It adds such interest to a dish.

Cheers!

 

Katie
August 27, 2007

Wonderful idea! I like 'something' but usually avoid the croutons because they just seem to soak up oil and get too crunchy. Now you have me thinking, though....little Parmesan crisps? Must try...

 

JEP
August 27, 2007

You have the most amazing ideas! I'm a crunch person, too.

 

dickrebel
August 27, 2007


What a great idea!

I know what I am going to top my butternut squash and leek soup with next time I make it... Squash crutons! It's a buttery soup so I'll use butter to fry them in tho.

BTW, about shortbread, I missed that post. We make a family shortbread, pretty basic shortbread recipe except some of the butter is replaced by an equal amount of olive oil (to your own taste and texture requirements), fresh rosemary (plenty of it but again to taste), and then v.slightly crushed pine nuts (as much as you want, up to about 1/3rd of the dough mass). The finished cutouts or pan (if making a whole jelly roll pan style cake of it) are sprinkled with sea-salt on the top! Try it!

-dr

 

Cynthia
August 27, 2007

These are a great idea. Will definitely try them. As a snack I can imagine popping them into my mouth all the time.

 

Dot
August 27, 2007

I fried up some yucca last night. My favorite part was the small crunchy pieces. I tossed a few in my soup, yum!

 

RisaG
August 27, 2007

I've made home fries (I guess I could've used them for croutons) with turnips and rutabagas. Worked pretty well. I've also seen other recipes using potatoes - I think it was Jamie Oliver or Nigella? Thought it was interesting. I've never seen anyone use sweet potatoes though. I'll have to try this. Thanks Heidi for the inspiration.

 

YOYO's FOOD
August 28, 2007

beautiful little yellow flours~

yummy potato~

 

BIG V
August 28, 2007

this recipe looks scramptious I have to absolutely try it plus I love me some potatoes.

 

The Cooking Ninja
August 28, 2007

Exactly the same as my MIL cooks it.

 

Deborah Dowd
August 28, 2007

These sound terrific! I'll bet sweet potatoes would be good as well!

 

Mrs Redboots
August 28, 2007

Sounds delicious. I usually add a small tin of sweet corn to my soups for a bit of "crunch" as croutons are too fatty for me and go soggy if you aren't drinking all the soup at once. But those potatoes would be good with an egg dish, too, I suspect.

 

Stephen
August 28, 2007

The possibilities are endless. I fried corn for my last soup garnish.

 

lory
August 28, 2007

Joli recette..miam!

 

B
August 28, 2007

I had never tried croutons in soup until I went to India, strangely enough where they served in strangely sweet tomato soup topped with a touch of cream. Delicious. I just wish home-made croutons weren't so labour intensive!

B
http://handtomouthkitchen.wordpress.com

 

claudia
August 28, 2007

fabulous idea - and for those avoiding wheat, ingenius!

 

Ashley
August 28, 2007

Yum I LOVE the idea of potato croutons. I must try this. :) Brilliant!

 

Sharyn Salwowski
August 29, 2007

Wow, that's such a good idea...would bring a bhaji element to curried soups!
A tasty habit I am forming is doing tomato and chargrilled red pepper soup with basil and for the topping,
blob of creme fraiche,
then some caramelised onions
then some toasted pine nuts.
It looks really good for starters at a dinner party.

 

Mrs Redboots
August 29, 2007

Made these yesterday to go with braised lamb shanks - they were delicious! Thank you.

 

Polish Pottery
August 29, 2007

I just discovered your website and am so excited about it! The recipes all look great- I am sure my husband will appreciate this find...

 

urban vegan
August 29, 2007

Nigella Lawson has also done this--better than greasy state bread.

I just bought your book and am really enjoying it. Love the photos and your recipes.

 

Hillary
August 29, 2007

I can't really wrap my head around what the texture of these are like, especially when added to soup but I do know I like anything potato! Very creative!

 

Best Recipes
August 29, 2007

What a great idea! I wish I'd thought of that. I'll have to give it a try.

 

Yamp
August 29, 2007

This really looks yummy! I adore sweet potatoes and am always joyfull when I find new ways of serving them.

As for ideas, I'm a real crouton person myself. I also like adding to my soups toasted pitas or diced panfried tortillas.

I really like your idea about using Halloumi cheese as a crunchy garnish. I made saag paneer yesterday and have quite a bit of leftover. I guess I could turn the spinach into a beautifully spicy cream and add the fried paneer on top as the crouton part!

I wonder if one could make crunchy tidbits using the same principle as pot-stickers, but reducing their size quite a bit? I guess one also could use tiny "choux", or tempura vegetables to add a bit of crunch to a soup, but that wouldn't be the healtiest of choice! Still, it might be very good... ;)

 

Coffee & Vanilla
August 29, 2007

That is a very good idea. I love croutonss in my soups... or soured cream :) I must try your recipe.
Thank you for sharing,
Margot

 

Anita D'Souza
August 29, 2007

The marigolds you used are lemon gem marigolds, right? I grew some of these last year cause they look nice and I figured they were probably a good natural source of lutein (some natural luetin supplements use a marigold extract). Whether or not my assumption is true, these are really great plants! You can buy these seeds from Seeds of Change. They also have Tangerine Gem marigolds which have the same shape but are orange.

Thanks again for sharing your great ideas and pics, Heidi!!

 

Marissa
August 29, 2007

Okay such a great idea. Everything is so beautiful it's making me hungry

 

Teddy
August 30, 2007

I love the little flowers here. it really makes the picture pop and the potatoes look scrumptious

Teddy

 

edward
August 30, 2007

I feel hungry seeing all the photos here.
health and wealth

 

baalpeteor
August 30, 2007

get dem yellah flowers out mah food!

 

Wesly
August 31, 2007

And I thought I came up with this. ;) I like making this as a side dish with thinly sliced grilled london broil. I add the chopped garlic a little more than 1/2 way through they get slightly browned but not bitter, while adding a garlicky crunch. I start out with olive oil and a small pat of butter so they get the added flavor. At the very end I add chopped parsley to give them a little green.

 

diane
September 2, 2007

dickrebel, I would like to have your butternut and leek soup recipe. My butternut squash is about ready to come out of my garden.