Friday, February 5, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

I've been meaning to post this recipe for weeks now.  Even though it isn't a hard recipe, I somehow managed to take 10,000 pictures that I felt the need to post.  Basically I've been putting it off because I'm lazy.  Well today's your lucky day, folks, because I've decided you've waited long enough for this amazing recipe.  

Baked potato soup is the type of thing you see on Panera or Hale and Hearty menus, but not much further than that.  Well, if you're like me, you love these types of creamy and filling soups.  I figured it was high time I made my own.  Frankly it was a lot better than any baked potato soup I've ever had.  John went into it thinking he wouldn't be interested, but he fell in love with the soup.  And what's not to love - it's a baked potato in soup form!  :: Mouth watering ::

As you know, I'm a bacon person.  It's kind of the crowning glory of the soup.  Chop up 3 slices of thick-cut bacon. 

In the same pot you'll be cooking your soup in (in my case, my dutch oven), cook your bacon over medium heat until crisp and browned.

While the bacon browns, feel free to cut up your onion.  You'll need one medium/large yellow or white onion.

Dice it up pretty finely. 

Bake 2 large/extra-large (mine were humungo) potatoes.  I think I baked mine at 350 degrees for about an hour or so.  Depending on the size, you might want to check on them a few times.  Or maybe just use your microwave.  Your call. 

When your bacon is nice and crispy (about 7 minutes) remove it from the pot and place on a paper towel to get a bit of the grease off.  As for the rest of your grease, leave it right there in the pan.  Trust me on this.

Now throw in your onion and mix it around with all your bacon-fatty goodness. 

Mince 3 cloves of garlic and add to the onions when they are almost translucent.  Garlic burns easily, so I like to add it in a little later. 

When your onions are done, go into your fridge and grab 3 tablespoons of butter.  This wasn't in the original recipe, but it's in mine and we're all happier for it.  I decided I wanted to add butter because the recipe called for flour in the next step.  And let's face it, butter makes everything taste better. 

I created a little area for the butter to melt so that I could add the flour there as well and create a roux. 

Once the butter is melted, add 3 tablespoons of butter and mix in well with the butter.  Try to keep this out of the onion mixture for a minute so we can be sure the flour taste is out of the roux.  Make sure to constantly stir the roux.

Then mix the roux with the onions.  Your house smells ridiculously delicious at this point.

It's spice time, folks. 

Add in 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. 

Mix thoroughly until the onions are coated in spices.  

Slowly add in 3 cups of low-sodium chicken broth.  Scrape the bottom of the pan as you add it in so you can deglaze it and get all those lovely browned bits.  Once you add all the broth, bring it to a boil for 2 minutes. 

The skin should peel off pretty easily if your potatoes are well cooked.  Take your peeled baked potatoes and cut them into 1/2 inch or 1/4-inch slices and then dice them up.  Honestly, you're better off cutting them smaller so you have less blending to do later (if you are going that route).  I made mine a little too big. 

Now throw in all your potato chunks into your soup. 

Give it a big mix.  If you didn't cook your potatoes long enough (I'm guilty of that), you can cook your soup a little longer at this point to get the potatoes completely cooked. 

I decided to use my new immersion blender for the soup, though you can just leave the potato chunks if you desire, or you an use a regular blender. 

The more I blended the creamier and thicker the soup got. 

This took a lot of blending, I'm not going to lie.  I didn't read the immersion blender instructions first which told me to cut things into half-inch pieces.  Oh well.

Now add in 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce once you've got it blended pretty well.

I tasted my soup and decided it needed a bit more black pepper as well.  Definitely do a taste test here for salt and pepper. 

Give it a big stir...we're almost done people, hang in there. 

Half-n-half time!  Add in 1 cup half-n-half and mix thoroughly.  My soup was extra thick at this point, so it took some legitimate stirring to get it combined properly.

Hello, PYT.  Are you ready to become dinner?

Pour each person a generous helping, because even though they said they wouldn't like baked potato soup, they don't know what is right in the world.

Top your soup with grated cheese and those delicious bacon bits.  I'll be honest here, I went through the original 3 bacon strips on the first day we had it.  On day two I baked up 3 more strips in the oven.  That's how I roll, dear readers.  Oh and get this - I found a cooking class offered in San Francisco entitled "Everything Tastes Better with Bacon."  Sold!  Sign me up!

If you use a blender you soup will be extra thick, so you might not even want the flour.  I might omit it next time and see how it goes.  Whatever you do, just make this soup some way and some how.  You will not regret it.

Baked Potato Soup
Adapted from All Recipes

3 thick-cut bacon strips, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Bake 2 large potatoes in oven or microwave.  In a large stock pot, cook bacon until crisp, about 7 minutes.  Remove bacon with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.  Saute one diced onion in bacon grease until translucent and add 3 tablespoons of minced garlic for the last minute or so.  In a well, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Add 3 tablespoons of flour to butter and mix well.  Cook the butter-flour mixture (roux) for one minute before stirring in with onions.  Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon dried basil.  Gradually pour in 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan as you do so. Bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes.  Peel potatoes, and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces.  Add potatoes to pot and either leave as-is or blend with immersion blender.  Add 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce and taste for any additional salt and pepper needs.  Add in 1 cup half-n-half and heat through but do not boil. Garnish with bacon and cheese.

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