Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Loaded Potato Soup

As fall has set in here we've been getting a lot more cool, rainy grey days and I've been craving warm, comforting soups.  The evening this potato soup came together was no exception, and it was wonderful to watch the drizzle outside from a warm kitchen with a big pot of soup simmering on the stove.

This soup actually comes together quickly enough for a weeknight while still being flavorful and hearty.  I used a potato masher because I like my soup a little on the chunky side, but a regular or immersion blender would give you a smoother texture.  Anything you would put on a baked potato would be a nice topping- I'm looking forward to a ladle of chili stirred in the next time we're using up the odds and ends from the freezer.

Loaded Potato Soup

What's in it:

6 slices of bacon, chopped*
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
1 tsp dried thyme
4 c chicken stock or broth*
2 oz cream or neufchatel cheese
1/4 c heavy cream or half & half
1 c shredded cheddar, jack or colby cheese, divided
2 c steamed broccoli
3 scallions, thinly sliced

How to make it:

Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook until crispy.  Remove bacon from pan to paper towels to drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pot.

Add olive oil if necessary for 2 tablespoons total, and add the onions and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until soft, then add carrots and garlic.  Allow the vegetables to cook until they start to develop some color.

Add the potatoes and thyme, stirring to combine, and season with salt and pepper again.  Add the chicken broth and bring the soup to a simmer.  Cook until potatoes begin to fall apart, about 10-15 minutes.  Break up potatoes with a potato masher to desired texture.  Over low heat, add the cream cheese and cream, if using, and stir until cream cheese melts.  Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese.

Serve topped with the reserved bacon, remaining cheese, steamed broccoli and scallions.

*This is just as good as a meatless meal.  Skip the bacon, use all olive oil, and sub vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

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