Colcannon Soup–Bacon or Vegan– for Saint Patrick’s Day


Colcannon, that adoring Irish and Scottish mash of buttery potatoes and cabbage or kale, is the inspiration for my soup that’s feisty without being overblown. The bacon is a salty, crunchy touch that you can easily leave out for a vegetarian or vegan version. You might add some toasted, sliced almonds or crispy croutons instead.  Make sure you have a pepper grinder at the table–or a bottle of hot sauce — for those who like spicy.  Scroll down for recipe or enjoy a few of my photos from Ireland first; there are some way at the bottom, too.

Below:  At the cathedral in Down Patrick, Northern Ireland  August, 2014

IMG_1198Below: outside Waterford, Ireland


Below:  pub in Waterford.  Dave’s first Guinness in Ireland.  Definitely not his last.


Below:  Shredded kale (Remove kale stems and slice in 1/4-inch ribbons for soup; sauté sliced stems separately for a salad addition.)


Put some music on before you start. (2 hours of Irish jigs and reels.)


8 servings

A fast and friendly filling soup for supper.  Good leftover for lunch, though not a candidate for freezing. While it looks like a long list of ingredients, they go together quickly and, with a few changes can easily fit a vegetarian or vegan menu– ingredient changes highlighted in orange.  If you have a food processor, chop the onions, leeks, garlic, carrots, and parsley all together to speed up the preparation. Irish soda bread would be lovely!  Don’t forget the beautiful, very yellow Irish butter if you indulge in such things.

  • 4 slices thick bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Bacon will be used for garnish. Skip for vegetarian or vegan option and add another tablespoon of olive oil.
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil for vegan version, divided–One for the pot and one to cook the leeks for garnish
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 leeks, trimmed (remove outer leaves) and sliced, divided–2 in soup pot, 1 to sauté for garnish at end
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup minced parsley
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper
  • 2 pounds peeled potatoes, diced (about 3 very large)
  • 3/4 pound turnip, peeled, diced (1 very large)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 quarts (8 cups or 64 ounces) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 quart (4 cups or 32 ounces) water
  • 1 cup white wine–can sub more water or broth
  • Several drops hot sauce — I like Tabasco
  • 2 cups shredded kale — can sub cabbage
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt, for garnish. Optional-leave out for vegan version

In a large, heavy stockpot, cook bacon, if using, until crisp and drain on a towel-lined plate, leaving fat in pan. Reserve bacon for garnish.  Add butter or oil to pot, melt, and add onions, 2 of the leeks, garlic, carrots, and parsley.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Let cook 5 minutes covered or until vegetables are softening. Stir in potatoes, turnip, and thyme and heat through, stirring.  Pour in broth, water, and wine; season with 4-5 drops hot sauce.  Add another 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper–or to taste. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, another 20-30 minutes or until everything is granny-tender.

Using an immersion blender, purée briefly if desired.  Stir in kale and cook covered until kale or cabbage is wilted and tender.  Taste again for seasoning. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat other tablespoon of butter or olive oil; sauté reserved sliced leeks (discard tough outer layer of leek) 10-12 minutes or until very tender and golden, stirring regularly.

Serve hot garnished with reserved bacon, sautéed leeks, and sour cream if using–along with a nice slice of the Irish soda bread.

To store, cool totally, pour into containers, cover tightly , and place in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store bacon and cooked leeks separately.  Do not freeze.

Don’t like beer?  Open a French White Burgundy, a California Chardonnay, or check out Irish wines.

{printable recipe}

Below:  Dave at the Guinness brewery in Dublin drinking his own pint and guarding mine. You can see nearly forever from the top-level bar.


Here’s my soda bread, but buy a loaf at the bakery if you’ve no time for baking.

For a gluten-free and vegan version, click here @ Gluten-Free Goddess. Looks wonderful, though –truth in baking– I have not made that particular recipe.


Irish Soda Bread – American Style                         8-10 servings

Bake this easy bread in an oven-proof bowl for a round version or free-form on a baking if you prefer. For a more traditional Irish brown loaf, scroll down.
  • 4 cups all-purpose white, unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup butter, cold, cut into pieces.
  • 1 1/2 cups currants or raisins–I prefer currants
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk (+ 2-3 T, if at altitude)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Grease a 2-quart  round bowl (ovenproof), casserole or  deep cake pan or place a sheet of parchment paper on a half sheet pan.  Preheat oven to 375F.
*In food processor, or large mixing bowl, measure dry ingredients and mix well.  Cut in with blade attachment or with knives or pastry blender, the butter.  In a large mixing cup, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs; add the currants and baking soda.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix well to form a very wet dough. 
*Turn dough into the prepared baking bowl  or onto the parchment-lined baking sheet (for a free form loaf) and bake for about an hour  (or a bit more)  until bread is very well-browned and firm in the center.  A wooden skewer stuck in the middle of the bread should come out clean.  You may have to test several times if baked in the bowl. 
*Let this bread sit 15-20 minutes before cutting or it will crumble.  Cool completely before wrapping tightly in foil and storing in the refrigerator.  Will keep 3-4 days.
 Excellent leftover just as it is, but even better for toast made under the broiler. 
Note:  the free-form loaf may bake a bit quicker and more thoroughly. You can also divide the dough into two smaller loaves and bake them for less time.  Test at 35 minutes and continue at five-minute intervals until done.  
…  … …
Alyce in Ireland in 2003 and Dave in Waterford, Ireland in 2014



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