Monday, January 7, 2013

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

One of the great debates from the early days of our marriage came from a bowl of soup. Whereas I am perfectly happy to sit down to a dinner of a hearty bowl of soup, even without some crusty bread to go with it, Graham cannot simply have soup for dinner. It must be accompanied by a sandwich or something equally filling to make it a true meal. I suppose I could agree with him, especially in this case. This soup is one that is not to be missed, for sure. It's everything you love about a baked potato: sour cream, bacon, cheese, green onions...all turned into one fabulous soup.

I like this particular recipe because it can be easily adapted to suit your needs, and in my case, it didn't require too much prep before turning on the crock pot and going to work. I actually chopped my potatoes into 1-inch pieces, a few even a little larger, so they didn't turn to complete mush before I got home. We all really like this soup, and it's made a few appearances on our table already this season. I know most of you have probably committed to eating well for 2013, but before you fling yourselves into it completely, just promise me you'll try this soup.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
(Adapted from America's Test Kitchen, as seen on Pink Parsley)

8 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 T. all-purpose flour (I use Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose GF Flour with no problems)
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
3 lbs. Russet potatoes, washed, dried, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 c. sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c. chopped scallions

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp, approx. 7 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.

Reserve 2 T. of bacon drippings, and discard the remainder. Cook onion in bacon drippings over medium-high until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in one cup of the chicken broth and deglaze the pan. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken, then transfer to the crock pot.

Stir in the remainder of the broth and add in the potatoes. Season lightly with salt and pepper, cover, and cook on low for 8-9 hours.

When bacon is cooled, discard paper towel and refrigerate until you're just about ready to serve.

After 8-9 hours, transfer 3 c. potatoes to a large bowl (eyeball it--I usually do 3 ladles full). Stir the cream into the bowl and mash the potatoes with the cream until smooth. Return the mixture to the crock pot. Stir in cheddar cheese and sour cream, cover, and let the soup combine and heat through, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove bacon from the fridge. Reheat in the microwave, 30 seconds to one minute. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and top with bacon, shredded cheese, and scallions.

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