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.

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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.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • 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

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

    JEP
  • 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...

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

    almost vegetarian
  • 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.

    Melissa
  • i love the sound of your Recipe

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

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

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

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

    mary
  • 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?

    Rose
  • 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.

    diane
  • 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!!

    Jennifer
  • 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.

    lucette
  • 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.

    Krista Jo
  • 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.

    sophie
  • What a neat idea!!

    Pille
  • 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).

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

    Andy
  • 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

    Michael Natkin
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