‘Like getting a hot hug’: Atlantic Canadians served potato soup in 2021, but each province puts its own spin on the classic

‘Like getting a hot hug’: Atlantic Canadians served potato soup in 2021, but each province puts its own spin on the classic

Recently, my mom was looking for her war cake recipe when she stumbled upon a recipe she had written down on potato soup. She admitted she never made it and I realized I never ate it.

When I was growing up with PEI, I thought I had tried all varieties of potatoes: baked potato, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, hash browns.

Potato soup was not on my radar – but it is in many others. In fact, according to Google Trends Report, potato soup was one of the most searched recipes on the internet in 2021.

Building taste

Bonita Hussey’s website and the accompanying YouTube channel, which operates from Spaniers Bay, NL, contain hundreds of cooking and baking recipes and instructional videos. Included is a recipe and video of traditional Newfoundland potato soup with sausages.

“Potato soup is about building flavor because potatoes really have no flavor, and starting your base with lots of fresh vegetables that boil together in a pot of hot water with sea salt,” says Hussey.

“So, once they are cooked, separate them and mash with butter, garlic, cream, pepper, then more sea salt, and add other spices you like to your liking.”

Bonita Hussey's first video was a gift to her sons who lived in Calgary and wanted to know how to make bread.  Four years later has
Bonita Hussey’s first video was a gift to her sons who lived in Calgary and wanted to know how to make bread. Four years later, “Bonitas Kitchen” has hundreds of recipes and instructional videos on its website and YouTube channel. – Contributed

Hussey’s father was a local organic farmer who grew vegetables for years, so most of their meals included vegetables.

“Years ago, our eldest made lots of different soups and served them with warm white bread topped with butter and a hot cup of tea,” Hussey says.

She feels that the traditional Newfoundland potato soup with sausages is a beloved recipe “because of its full balance of flavor with the layers of vegetables cooked with the potatoes. Plus, winter soups are the best! Our potato soup is topped with the extra vegetables, mashed and fried local sausage and onions. “

Mary Janet MacDonald feels that soup on a cold, wintry day warms your heart.  - Contributed
Mary Janet MacDonald feels that soup on a cold, wintry day warms your heart. – Contributed

The bowl of comfort

Mary Janet MacDonald runs her website for Tunes and Wooden Spoons from her home kitchen in Port Hood, Cape Breton. Her business started during the COVID-19 incarceration in 2020, when her daughter suggested she do a live-stream tutorial on how to make her beloved family recipe for cinnamon rolls.

MacDonald feels that potatoes are an integral part of East Coast cuisine.

“I grew up in a house where we had potatoes every single day because you couldn’t get meat without potatoes,” she says.

Her Irish potato soup recipe is a simple, meat-free option that she says is an ideal lunch.

Mary Janet MacDonald's Irish Potato Soup - Contributed
Mary Janet MacDonald’s Irish Potato Soup – Contributed

“Even though our palates have changed into more spicy and worldly dishes over the last 50 years, the potato is still a cozy vegetable that we can all agree on, I’m sure,” she adds.

Heather Gunn McQuillian – owner of Nature Space Resort and Retreat Center in St. Peters Harbor, PEI – agrees with that assessment.

McQuillian loves to cook, and her skills in the kitchen are evident in her recipe for PEI-baked potato soup, which won first place in Saltscape’s annual recipe competition in 2012.

“I come from generations of amazing chefs. My grandmother was an incredible baker and cook. You could always taste the love in her food. As a girl, I cooked and baked with my mother,” says PEI resident Heather Gunn McQuillian, who owns Nature Space Resort and Retreat Center. – The contribution

“I’ve had a Saltscapes subscription for years and they always have recipe contests. When I saw it for potatoes, I knew I had a potential winner as my potato soup always got rave reviews, she says.

“I wish I could tell you that the recipe had been inherited for generations like so many of the recipes I make, but in this case it was a customization of a recipe I found online. I added bacon (because everything is better with bacon) and raised cheddar cheese.This is not a healthy soup, but it certainly tastes good!

McQuillian feels that potato soup is loved in Atlantic Canada because “it’s the ultimate comfort food! Hot, creamy and can be made with local ingredients.”

She also feels that there is some nostalgia about feeling connected to the past, “as eating potato soup feels like being wrapped in a warm handmade quilt. They are the taste of our grandparents, and eating a bowl is like getting a hot hug. “

“When you make potato soup, taste it to see if you have enough spices, and you can also add any amount of vegetables to your casserole and cook together. Play with your flavors to make this soup your own. , “says Bonita Hussey. – The contribution

Traditional Newfoundland potato soup with sausages from Bonita’s Kitchen


  • 6 medium-sized potatoes
  • 2 large celery sticks
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 large carrot
  • 4 breakfast sausages
  • 1 or 1.5 dl vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • Sea salt – nip as needed
  • Black pepper – pinch as needed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Peel, slice and water vegetables. Add your potatoes, carrot, celery and onion in a medium saucepan, top with water and a pinch of salt, start cooking on medium heat until your vegetables are soft.
  2. Pour the water from the vegetables into a bowl to recycle the broth.
  3. Store the potatoes in the pan, put them back on the stove and take the other vegetables out in a bowl and set them aside.
  4. Mashed potatoes. Add 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, pinch of sea salt and your milk or cream and a grated clove of garlic.
  5. Continue mixing until the potatoes are creamy, then add your broth. Continue mixing until combined. If you like the potato soup a little liquid, add more broth. Mash the other vegetables in another bowl together and remove any non-mashed celery.
  6. Add a dash of olive oil, butter and your sliced ​​sausage to a frying pan. Fry until golden brown, then remove the sausage from the pan and drain for oil.
  7. Add butter to the frying pan and chopped onion. Fry until golden brown and add at the last minute your last piece of grated garlic. Then turn off the heat. Put the sausage back in your frying pan and put the lid on until you are ready to plate.
  8. Start to plate your soup. Add a few pieces of your sausage to the top of your soup and a scoop of onion mixture. Top with 1 tablespoon full of your carrot mixture and season with black pepper, pinch of salt, celery leaves or whatever herbs you like.

Irish potato soup by Mary Janet MacDonald, tunes and wooden spoons


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion (grated)
  • 2 pounds of reddish-brown potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (about 4 large potatoes)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • A little parsley for garnish (optional)


Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Saute the cracked onion for five minutes or until tender. Add potatoes, garlic powder, kosher salt and pepper and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Use a stick blender and blend until the potato mixture is smooth and creamy.

When the mixture is even, add the milk. Season to taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Sprinkle a little parsley over the top. Serve immediately.

PEI Baked Potato Soup by Heather Gunn McQuillian


  • 9 large PEI baked potatoes
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) butter
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) universal flour
  • 8 cups (2 L) skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) crushed black pepper
  • 8-12 strips of bacon (boiled and crumbled into pieces)
  • 4 green onions (chopped)
  • 3 cups (500 ml) old cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) light sour cream


Bake potatoes at 350 ° F (180 ° C) for one hour. Scrape the meat out and discard the peel (Do not mash the potato, you will want chunks of different sizes to make the soup juicy-like).

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for about a minute; be careful not to burn. Whisk in milk, one cup at a time, stirring constantly until thick. Stir potatoes, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the bacon pieces, 2 tablespoons (30 ml) green onion and 2.5 cups (375 ml) cheese into.

Cook until thoroughly heated (five to 10 minutes). Stir in the sour cream and heat for another two to three minutes. Serve, topped with remaining bacon, green onions and cheese. Serves 8-10 servings.

Tip: If you are busy, the potatoes can be baked in the microwave, which does not change the taste. Prick potatoes with a fork; microwave on high, three at a time, for about five minutes. Turn the potatoes and cook for another five minutes at high temperature, or until soft.

Did you know?

Both Bonita Hussey (Bonita’s Kitchen) and Mary Janet MacDonald (Melodies and Wooden Spoons) have recently published cookbooks.

Bonita’s Kitchen: A Little Taste of Home, can be purchased at St. John’s through Newfoundland publisher Boulder Books, Indigo online or ordered directly from Bonita’s Kitchen.

Tunes and Wooden Spoons Recipes from a Cape Breton Kitchen can be purchased from MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc. via the Tunes and Wooden Spoons website.

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