National Potato Day, just when I felt like having rice. No worries, I recently had Loaded Baked Potato Soup at a local eatery, after hearing about it a few months ago. I was not disappointed; well, semi-disappointed--they only had enough for a cup, not a bowl by the time I got there. Better some, than none, and I would have loved more.
So, I thought that since to today is National Potato Day, I'll make some Loaded Baked Potato soup for dinner. To my horror, I discovered hundreds of recipes that don't even start with--you guessed it--baked potatoes. What are these people thinking? If a recipe names something, shouldn't it at least have some of the aforementioned ingredient? Even Mock-Turtle soup gives you the heads up that there is no turtle in it. It must be me, I must ask too much.
So the mad scientist persona overcame me. Let's make baked potato soup from--you guessed it again--baked potatoes!
Into the oven went four nice big Russet bakers, I decided to use two more in the body of the soup. Of course, there will be chicken stock in it, and bacon and cheddar cheese and onions. Oh, no, I am fresh out of green onions and chives...okay so it will not be totally loaded. But close.
While the large bakers were baking in a 400° F oven I diced up about half a pound of bacon--yes we like a lot of bacon.
I got the bacon real crispy. Took about 98% of the bacon out and drained it on paper toweling, setting it aside for later. To the rest of the bacon I added 2 tablespoons of butter, and 1 small onion chopped small. I let the onions sweat until they were translucent, then added 1 clove garlic smashed and mushed up real fine. Just stir it around until you get the aroma of the garlic, then its time to add 1/2 cup flour and stir in with a whisk or large fork until all the flour is incorporated in and the mixture is bubbly. Here's where I went a little awry. I let the roux color a bit to a light tan. That resulted in a "tan-ish" colored soup, instead of a white one, but I didn't care, I knew what I did.
Then I added 10 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of chicken base--really good stuff, just loaded with sodium, so if you have to limit your sodium intake use the best broth or stock you can find, or better yet, make your own. Okay, we'll cover that soon, too.
I diced up the other 2 spuds, leaving the skin on for all the vitamins, brought the mixture up to a boil and then let it simmer about 20 minutes for the potatoes to cook.
While the potatoes were cooking I removed the cooked spuds from the oven to let cool a bit, then peeled just the outer skin off. I mashed up two of the baked potatoes to help give the broth body, the other two, I diced. Into the mix it all went, as well as about half of the rest of the bacon, and then I let it simmer for about 30 more minutes with the cover off to concentrate the flavors a bit. Please note, I did not use any extra salt, with the bacon, and the chicken base, it did not need a drop, and later with the cheese, it definitely won't need any additional salt. I did, however, add some pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon, you can add more at the table.
Here's another change from most of the other recipes: I only used a cup of milk and no cream, which probably would have lightened the color more, but like I said, I didn't mind the color. I added 1/4 lb. grated Extra Sharp Cheddar with the milk, then I only let the soup come to a simmer and just kept it nice and hot, but not boiling, so the cheese would melt. I decided not to add the sour cream to the soup at this point, either, because Number Two will be coming home from working on the road again, so I have to hold the pot for him until after 10 PM, the sour cream will break if I try to hold it that long. I decided I can add the sour cream at the table to each individual serving, then top it with shredded cheddar and some bacon bits.
The hubby and Number One elected to pass on the sour cream and just loved the soup anyway. They both said it was a good idea for the evening of our first snowfall, warming and filling.
This is one of those recipes I will have to keep working on to perfect, even though it hit the spot pretty well, but I missed the chives, and once I added the sour cream it definitely tasted like a baked potato.
How about you share your recipe for me to try?