This creamy, cheesy Spanish Potato Soup is pure cozy comfort in a bowl. The soup includes buttery potatoes and tender pork carnitas swimming in a rich broth flavored with onion, red pepper, garlic, cumin, oregano, and paprika.
"This soup is absolutely amazing!! My parents will spend all day crafting carnitas for a fine dinner on its own, and then beg me to make this soup with the leftovers. The soup gets all the glory and love. I feel like I'm practically cheating because they did all the hard work the day before. I just swoop in with potatoes, cheese, bacon, and broth." - Mike
Ingredients needed to prepare this recipe
- All-purpose flour. A bit of flour thickens the broth in this soup. See below for gluten-free substitutes.
- Fresh cilantro. For those of you who don't care for cilantro, leave it out altogether or use Italian flat-leaf parsley instead.
- Olive oil and butter. I love the flavor combination of olive oil and butter, but feel free to use vegetable, canola, avocado, or coconut oil in this soup instead of olive oil. You can also use all oil instead of both butter and oil.
- Garlic, onion, and red bell pepper form the aromatic flavor base for this soup. I prefer the flavor of yellow onion in this soup, but a red or white onion can be used instead.
- Cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. This combination of dried herbs adds a crazy amount of Spanish flavor to this soup. If you can find Spanish smoked paprika, use that. Otherwise, use any kind of paprika available to you.
- Yukon gold potatoes. I love the rich, buttery, almost creamy consistency of Yukon gold potatoes but any kind of potato can be used in this soup.
- Shredded cheddar cheese. Cheesy, creamy, spicy, potato soup ... do I need to say more about what's great about a handful of cheddar cheese in this soup?
- Sour cream. Sour cream gives this soup its creamy texture and adds a delicious subtle tang to the flavor of the broth.
- Chicken or vegetable broth, or Better than Bouillon soup base combined with water. in place of broth. Better than Bouillon is more convenient than broth because it keeps well in the refrigerator for
I almost always use Better than Bouillon in place of broth in this soup recipe and in pretty much every other recipe that calls for broth. Better Than Bouillon lasts for months in the refrigerator and allows you to just use what you need when you need it. I also think the flavor is about a thousand times better than almost any kind of broth you can buy in a can or carton.
Additions and substitutions
- To make this soup gluten free substitute cornstarch, arrowroot flour, or sweet rice flour for the all-purpose flour. Sweet rice flour can be used in the same amount as all-purpose flour. If using cornstarch or arrowroot flour use half as much as all-purpose flour in this recipe - 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot flour instead of 2 tablespoons of flour. You can also toss a handful of uncooked white rice into the pan right after adding the broth. As the rice breaks down the starch will help to thicken the broth.
- To make a lighter version of the soup, leave out the sour cream and cheese - or reduce their amounts.
- To make a vegetarian version of this soup replace the carnitas with a can of black beans (pictured below).
- To make a vegan version of this soup, replace the sour cream with vegan sour cream, replace the carnitas with black beans or vegan taco meat, use vegetable broth, vegan cheese, and additional oil or vegan butter instead of dairy-based butter.
- Instead of carnitas: Leave the meat out altogether, or purchase some pre-cooked pork roast at your local market and add that in place of the Carnitas. Cooked crispy bacon, chorizo sausage, rotisserie chicken or roast chicken also make great substitutes for carnitas in this soup.
- In addition to carnitas: Some crispy fried bacon is, as you can imagine, an incredibly delicious addition to this soup. Other great additions include a can or two of chopped green chilies, any kind of beans, and chorizo sausage (or any kind of sausage).
Step-by-step photos and instructions
Cook diced onion and red bell pepper with butter and oil in a large saucepan or stockpot until the vegetables are softened.
Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper to the vegetables and cook, stirring, for another minute.
Sprinkle in the flour and stir everything around to coat the vegetables with the flour. Continue to cook and stir for about another minute.
Pour the broth into the saucepan very slowly, stirring constantly as you add it bit by bit. Adding it slowly will prevent lumps from forming.
Add the potatoes to the broth, turn up the heat, and bring the broth to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and let the potatoes simmer gently until they are fork tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the sour cream to a small bowl and pour in about a cup of the hot soup broth, whisking as you add it.
Pour the sour cream and broth mixture back into the soup pot and stir to blend everything together.
Add the grated cheddar cheese to the soup and stir until it's melted.
Add the Carnitas to the soup and cook just until the meat is heated through. Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, or cayenne if desired.
Serve bowls of soup sprinkled with chopped fresh cilantro.
Pro tip! It's easy to make this soup as thick or as brothy as you like by simply adding more or less broth. Start by adding 4 cups of broth then add as much more as you like to achieve the consistency you desire. Add less broth for a thick soup or add more broth for a brothy soup.
As you can see in these photos, I usually like to use the minimum amount of broth to create a thick, almost stew-like texture for this soup.
What to serve with Spanish potato soup
My favorite thing to serve with warm bowls of this creamy, cheesy, potato soup are warm homemade flour tortillas. Homemade tortillas are much easier to make than you might think and incomparably better than anything you'll find in any supermarket.
To add some crunch to this creamy soup, crumble some homemade tortilla chips over bowls of soup right before serving.
And for dessert, I usually opt for something that can match the comfort level of this soup. Giant oatmeal raisin cookies, gooey chocolate chip pecan cookies, or thick slices of chocolate loaf cake topped with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge are a few of my favorites.
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If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #alittleandalot on Instagram.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable, canola, avocado, or coconut oil)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, and diced
- 1 tablespoon diced garlic (3-4 cloves)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste (Or, 1 teaspoon table salt)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, OR Better Than Bouillon vegetable or chicken base combined with water
- 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 to 1 & ½ inch chunks
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 2-3 cups Pork Carnitas (See note below for substitutions)
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Add the oil and butter to a large heavy bottomed saucepan or dutch oven and set over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the diced onion and red pepper. Cook until softened, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper to the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer.
- Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 - 2 minutes.
- Pour the broth in slowly, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Start by adding 4 cups of broth then add as much more as you like to achieve the consistency you desire. Add less broth for a thick soup or add more broth for a brothy soup. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
- Add the potatoes and turn down the heat to medium-low. Let the potatoes simmer gently until they are fork tender, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Ladle about 1 cup of liquid from the soup pot into a bowl. Slowly stir in the sour cream until completely incorporated. Stir back into the soup pot.
- Add the cheese, and stir until melted and completely incorporated into the soup. Stir in the Carnitas. Set back over low heat and cook, stirring, just until the carnitas are heated through.
- Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve.
What can you use instead of carnitas?
Use any kind of shredded pork, pulled pork, or pre-cooked pork roast. Or use cooked sausage, bacon, or chorizo. Another great option is shredded cooked chicken.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 733Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 1534mgCarbohydrates: 60gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 32g