Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Souper Baked Potato Soup

It does not really get cold in Houston, at least not when compared to states like Minnesota. We are really lucky to have mild winters here, but that does not mean we Houstonians do not have more than our fair share of whining when the temperatures drop below 50F. Add in a high wind, and we are miserable creatures to be around, if not down right annoying.

Here we simply can not wait for cold weather to have soup, so we settle for cool. If we did, our moments of bowling for soup would be few and far between. And I'd hate to wait that long for my favorite soup of them all, Baked Potato Soup.

See how dreamy it is? I love this soup. But something is missing. Can you tell what it is? Yes, bacon. The crispy, smoky stuff sent to us from the gods. I feel practically naked (eew!) sharing this recipe with you and not having bacon in the photo or in the soup to be honest. I ran out and was on a deadline to make this soup before my daughter came home from work, since she requested it for dinner. But usually, I do have bits of bacon swimming in this steamy, swanky soup. So now that I have gotten all that out of the way, let's get to the recipe.

Carolina Little's Baked Potato Soup Recipe (serves 6 healthy portions)

8 slices of bacon of your choice (if you remember it!)
1/3 cups of unsalted butter (salted will work, just omit extra salt in recipe)
1/3 All Purpose Flour
2 cups of milk
1 cup of chicken broth
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
2 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 packet of onion soup mix
3/4 cups of shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of sour cream or nonfat- or lowfat- plain yogurt
Salt and Pepper to taste (less salt is always best for your health and weight management!)

1. Place cubed potatoes in microwave-safe bowl. Cover with damp paper towel(s). Cook in microwave on high until a fork pierces through the tender potato. Usually takes 10-15 minutes.
2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain. Crumble. Set aside.
3. In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over MEDIUM heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk, broth, and cream, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens.

4. Stir in onion soup mix. Then add potatoes. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
5. Next, coarsely mash potatoes until the soup has bits of potato and mashed potato in it. This will add texture and creaminess to your soup.

6. Finally, mix in bacon, cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Parsley and chopped green onions are nice touch, too. Just go "loaded baked potato"- crazy!  Serve after cheese has melted.

I really never make this soup the same way twice. This is just a starter recipe. Sometimes, I just throw in a little bit of this and that in it. It all depends on my mood. And what I have not run out of!

Anyway, there is not much we can do about the weather, except to make soup when life hands us temperatures below 50F.

I can really butcher adages.

1. Onion soup add in extra spices such as garlic. "All- in- one" seasoning packets are awesome. 
2. Onion soup mix hides the onion from discriminating noses, but adds in the flavor!
3. Microwaving the potatoes reduces cooking time, big time!
4. You can replace the chicken stock and cream with all milk in this recipe.
5. You can substitute low-fat products for their fattier counterparts in this recipe. 
6. Margin will work in place of the butter. I just LOVE butter, though. 
7. Croutons are amazing on top of this soup. Toast up some bread and cut it into cubes for quick homemade croutons. I refrigerate or freeze leftover garlic bread for this purpose. 
8. You can use leftover mashed potatoes.  4 cups should be a good substitute. 
9. If soup is too thick, add in extra stock or milk to thin out to desired consistency. 

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