January 13, 2010

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I think my pregnancy cravings are really starting to get aggressive. All I can think about lately is restaurant-style, dairy-laden, baked potato soup. You know...the kind with cheese, bacon, green onions, and sour cream for "garnish". Dairy products are not my friend these days, so I am not sure why I want a soup completely chock full o' lactose so badly. The only explanation is pregnancy cravings. I searched around on the Internet and finally found a soup that promises to fulfill all my starchy/creamy/soupy desires. I am going to make a quick salad to go along side of our yummy soup, and dinner will be served!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
From: Cooking During Stolen Moments

1 lb. bacon, diced (See Results below: I used a lot less)
1 onion, diced
5 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cups chicken stock
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3 green onions, sliced
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
Sour cream for garnish, optional
(***Add a few sprinkles of white wine vinegar to balance the dish before serving.***)

1. In a large stock pot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain and set aside. Drain all but 2 T. of bacon grease from the pot. Cook the onions in the remaining bacon grease for about 5 minutes, until tender.

2. Add potatoes and chicken stock to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. With a slotted spoon, remove a few scoops of potatoes. Place in a bowl and mash with a fork. Set aside.

3. In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Slowly stir in to stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer. Stir mashed potatoes back into pot.

4. Add 1/2 c. shredded cheese, three-fourths of the bacon and half the sliced green onions to pot. Add pepper. Stir to combine. Cook an additional 5 minutes.

5. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and top with some shredded cheese, bacon, green onions and optional sour cream.

The Result:
This was exactly what I wanted in a Baked Potato Soup. It was so satisfying!

I did make a couple of little changes, but nothing too major. For example, I used 4 potatoes instead of 5. Then, I only had Monterrey Jack cheese on hand (not cheddar), so that is what I used. I mixed half of the cheese I had (about 1/2 cup) into the sauce pan with the milk, to make the cheese melt better and the overall dish more cohesive. I only used 6 slices of bacon, and not the full pound recommended. A pound of bacon just seemed unnecessary. I cooked the full strips until crisp, and then crumbled them on top for garnish. It still turned out savory and bacony, and we didn't miss the extra fat/calories from the superfluous meat.
Lastly, I sprinkled some white wine vinegar into the soup right before serving. Maybe about a teaspoon or so total. It was a little too creamy and dull, so it really needed a small hit of acid to balance the flavors. The white wine vinegar was perfect...it gave the dish a tiny bit of brightness that it otherwise did not have. I would definitely not skip the vinegar.*** In the end, I totally forgot about the sour cream as a garnish. It was still great soup; so really the sour cream would have been just a little added touch, not a major flavor component.

This soup was a hit with my family, and this recipe is a keeper!

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