Love and Olive Oil
Brothy Broccoli & Potato Soup with Crispy Potato Skins

Brothy Broccoli & Potato Soup with Crispy Potato Skins

With chunks of tender potatoes and broccoli florets in a flavorful broth—a refreshing contrast to the overly heavy cheese and cream of other broccoli soup recipes—this satisfying soup gets a crunchy, savory topping of fried potato skins (hooray for zero food waste!) and shaved parmesan cheese.

This broccoli and potato soup has a surprisingly flavorful brothy base made with just water (no broth or stock if you can believe it!) plus pancetta, tomato paste, garlic and green onions resulting in a surprising amount of flavor for such a limited number of ingredients (now that’s what I call dinnertime magic!)

Green ceramic bowl with a silver spoon filled with Brothy Broccoli & Potato Soup, bowl of Crispy Potato Skins and shaved parmesan in the background.

I think we all think of cream when we think of broccoli soup, and this is certainly not that. I think brothy is the best descriptor to counteract the assumption of cream. And sure enough, there’s no cream in sight.

Rather, this soup is chunky and satisfying in all the right ways, with a surprising amount of flavor considering the limited ingredients. It’s really one of our favorite soup recipes we’ve ever made.

The robust, brothy base (that actually uses no broth at all, just water) gets is satisfying flavor from pancetta, garlic, a bit of tomato paste and some green onions, combined with cubes of creamy potato, broccoli florets so soft and tender they almost melt in your mouth, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top for good measure.

Plus I surely can’t forget to mention the crispy fried potato skins, which add a beautiful crunchy contrast to the otherwise soft ingredients in the rest of the soup (not unlike fried tortilla strips on top of tortilla soup, which is obviously the best part).

The crispy potato skins and the shaved parmesan cheese are truly the icing on the cake, if you will. If the cake was soup and the icing was cheese and crispy potato skins.

Large blue dutch oven filled with Brothy Broccoli & Potato Soup with a wooden spoon, gray napkin on a gray background.

Flavor aside… you know what else makes this recipe so fabulous?

This is the ultimate no-food-waste soup recipe.

It uses the broccoli florets AND the stems.

It uses the potatoes AND the skins, peeled in strips and then fried until crispy and golden brown.

It only uses water, no broth, and somehow comes out with way more flavor than you’d ever expect.

It uses up that random leftover nub of tomato paste that’s been languishing in your fridge or freezer (side note: highly recommend freezing leftover tomato paste in 1 tablespoon dollops layered between parchment paper, pressed flat into a disk and then frozen in a zip-top bag; seriously, life changing kitchen hack if I ever saw one!)

Overhead, bowl with Brothy Broccoli & Potato Soup, gray napkin and two soup spoons, plus bowls of toppings (Crispy potato skins and parmesan cheese) on the side.

The recipe is adapted from Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine by Lidia Bastianich. We made a number of changes (more pancetta, less water and scallion, and adding the fried potato peels to the top), but the heart of the recipe remains true to the original.

From the title, simply “Broccoli and Potato Soup” you really have no idea what to expect. We originally made it because we happened to have some iffy broccoli, a few potatoes, and a bunch of green onions on its last legs and this recipe seemed like a great way to use up a bunch of random ingredients at the same time.

Granted, it’s not the prettiest soup by any means, the broccoli absorbs the small amount of tomato paste the longer it cooks, becoming almost neon orange in color and super soft, almost melt-in-your-mouth tender (if broccoli had bones, I’d definitely describe it as falling off the bone tender).

Appearances aside, I hope you believe me that it is delicious and well worth adding to your weekly dinner rotation.

Here’s How to Make It…

Pretty Please with Crispy Potato Skins on Top?

We topped our soup with a sprinkling of green onions, shaved parmesan cheese, and crispy fried potato skins (for a little textural contrast), but you can certainly experiment with other toppings if you wish!

There’s plenty of time to make the crispy potato skins while the soup is on its final simmer. To do so, simply heat an inch or so of oil in a saucepan to 350ºF. Add about a third of the potato skins (you don’t want to overcrowd the pan), and fry for about 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy, flipping the skins once or twice to ensure even cooking. Then remove with a slotted spoon or mesh spider and transfer to a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with fine sea salt while still warm. Repeat with remaining potato skins.

Tip: If you plan to make the fried potato skins, be sure to wash and scrub your potatoes really well before peeling.

While we loved the textural contrast of the fried potato skins, you can certainly skip this entirely if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of frying. But since your soup will be simmering for at least 30 minutes anyway, I say why not?

Spoonful of Brothy Broccoli & Potato Soup lifting out of a green ceramic soup bowl, small bowls of toppings in the background.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

Pancetta: feel free to use bacon or pancetta instead, or even a bit of ground sausage like Italian or chorizo. Vegetarians… I don’t have a suggestion for you here as I’m not familiar with veg*n meat replacers, but I think you’d lose a lot of the flavor by trying to remove or replace it.

Potatoes: We used mid-sized Yukon gold potatoes here (which softened to a lovely creamy consitency and made for perfectly sized potato peels), but Russets or Reds would work fine too. Don’t forget to the save the peels to fry up for a crispy topping!

Broccoli: You’ll use the whole head of broccoli here, so don’t try to save time by buying pre-cut florets. Cauliflower would probably also work as well.

Scallion: aka green onions. Chives would probably be the closest replacement. You could maybe use leeks or shallots, though I’d add them in earlier in the recipe (with the garlic maybe) as they’ll need longer to soften and cook through.

Water: While I’d encourage you to try the soup at least once with the water (you’ll be surprised how flavorful it is), you can use vegetable or chicken broth instead if you want (adjust/reduce the salt called for in the recipe accordingly, especially if you’re using salted broth).

Parmesan cheese: The original recipe actually called for pecorino, so either works here! I love how it melts into the soup and adds another level of savory richness, but you can leave it off if you like.

Brothy Broccoli & Potato Soup with Crispy Potato Skins

Brothy Broccoli & Potato Soup with Crispy Potato Skins

With tender broccoli and potatoes in a flavorful brothy base, this satisfying soup is topped with crispy fried potato skins and Parmesan cheese.
5 stars (1 review)


  • 2 tablespoons / 54 g extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces / 113 g pancetta, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 / 560 g medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (reserve peels for fried potato skins if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons / 32 g tomato paste
  • 2 quarts / 1.9 L water
  • 1 / 680 g large head broccoli, florets chopped, stems peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch / 150 g scallions, trimmed and chopped (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, for topping
  • fried potato skins, for topping

For Fried Potato Skins:

  • vegetable oil
  • potato skins, ideally small-ish strips of even size
  • fine sea salt


  • In a 5-6 quart Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat is rendered, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
  • Push potatoes to the edges to make an opening in the center of the pan, and add the tomato paste. Cook and stir the tomato paste in the center until it darkens a shade or two, about 2 minutes, then stir with potatoes until potatoes are evenly coated.
  • Add 2 quarts of water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are just barely fork tender.
  • Add the broccoli florets and stems along with scallions and salt. Simmer, uncovered this time, until the broccoli stems are tender, the florets have broken down, and the soup is thick and flavorful, about 25 to 30 minutes more.
  • Meanwhile, if you want to fry the potato skins, fill a saucepan with an inch of vegetable oil and set over medium heat. When oil reaches 350ºF, add the first batch of potato skins (work in batches as you don't want to overcrowd the pan). Fry for about 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy, then scoop out with a slotted spoon or spider and transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with fine sea salt while still warm. Repeat with remaining potato skins.
  • Spoon soup into serving bowls and top with grated cheese and fried potato skins if desired.
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1 Comment

  1. Hearty and satisfying soup. Simple to make and the fried potato skins are a nice addition. As you mentioned, use everything! Nothing for my compost bin. Even though there were no big chunks of meat for my meat loving guy he asked for seconds. New favorite dish.

    Very happy to have discovered your cooking site. New and refreshing ideas. I’m just getting started.

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