Potato and Kale Chowder

This was a recipe I saw online, that was dated to 1956. Potato City Country Hotel was a real place in Pennsylvania. That opened in 1949 and had a long life until it was torn down in 2018 for….a state police building. How boring. Progress right?

The recipe looked to me almost like a leftover from the Great Depression. Especially with the odd writing that was done back then. (The recipe is very disjointedly written in the ingredient list, and also calling for white sauce, and putting a recipe inside a recipe.) The “seasoning” in the white sauce directions most likely would have been a pinch of salt and pepper. It really doesn’t need much added – as the soup uses chicken broth which even when lower sodium, is still salty enough.

The recipe called for 1 lonely hard boiled egg, smashed through a sieve…for 6 bowls worth. Please. I don’t raise chickens to eat 1 teaspoon of egg. Let’s be more bougie and enjoy a whole egg each. Do this, and the soup really is heartier.

I added in a lovely bunch of fresh kale, diced up, and some garlic as well, to make the chowder heartier. And near the end of cooking, I added in a heaping handful of cooked and diced lean ham to make it a “meal”. It is one of “those” recipes, which were simple and easy to embellish as one might want to do. How fat your pantry and wallet felt by the meal. And it will feed a number of empty stomachs.

Add a loaf of garlic bread, with crunchy crust, to dip into it.

Because if my Mom taught me anything – soup is what you serve when times are hard. The liquid fills the stomach and you feel more full. You can stretch it to serve more people, and use what vegetables you have on hand. In our worst years, as a child, we ate a lot of potato soup. It was nowhere as luxurious as this chowder though.

I have a core memory I cannot shed of one of the worst January’s of my life. We had no money, and had moved the previous week before, over New Years Eve. My Mom had to go to the food bank in the new town, and swallow her pride to get help. We were broke and had nothing. She tried to cheer us up in her way. She tried to cook us food. It was literally one of the worst soups I have ever choked down. It was made with russet potatoes that had seen their best months the previous summer, nonfat dry milk and a random bag of very stale cheese puffs she had been given. It was the early 1980’s, not the 1930’s, but it might have well been. Sitting in a cold house, as my Dad tried to warm it with the fireplace, burning wood that was windfall he had scrounged up. We were fortunate, I realize as an adult – that I had a house to be in. That was safe.

My parents were hard working people. They had pride. They hated asking for help. Getting help was shameful – the food banks were run by cruel people who loved to lecture you about why you even needed help. It’s not that way overall now. Poverty is talked about openly – although mostly by people who have literally never experienced it. They seem to have lots of inner thoughts on how to cure it. Sometimes life just sucks and people DO need a helping hand.

My Dad was born in the Great Depression – and he never forgot it. He was always so nervous about food. When money was good in the warm months (when work was plentiful) he would decree to my Mom they must stock up. I learned to make bread, how to grow food, how to can food – because of them. In my mind I always hear “Will we have enough for the winter”. I may joke about it, but under it all, I am dead serious “Will we have enough for winter”. I try to tell my children how this was wrapped into my core memories and I cannot turn it off. It’s what drives me to homestead.

I have never been able to get past the fear that there will be a day when all I can give my children is a watery soup of mushy potatoes with blue “milk” water. And that is all I have to give them.

But not today. Today they had a soup that was comforting, and full of tasty produce. It was nourishing to their bodies.

Potato and Kale Chowder


  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • 1½ cups potatoes (peeled and diced, about 2 small size russet potatoes)
  • 1 tsp dried garlic or a couple fresh cloves, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed, finely chopped
  • 4 cups lower sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 5 hard boiled eggs

White Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Pinch of fine sea salt


In a large pot, melt the 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add in onion, bell pepper, and celery. Saute until tender, stirring often. Add in potatoes and garlic, then the broth. Cover with lid, let simmer for 15 minutes, turning down heat as needed to just maintain a low simmer. Stir every couple of minutes.

Add in the kale, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, in a small pot melt the remaining butter, whisk in the flour till smooth. Add in the milk, whisking till mixed, and the mixture thickens and just starts bubbling.

When the soup is done simmering, stir the white sauce into it, let heat through, then take soup off of the stove.

Serve soup in bowls. For each bowl, take one peeled hard boiled egg and squash with fork tines, then top soup with it.

Serves 5.


If desired, add in about half of a cup of diced cooked lean ham near the end to warm up for a filling soup.