Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thick and Creamy Potato Soup

Hello, winter! And hello, soup weather! Last night was the first seriously cold night we've had, so I decided it was time to break out the soup pot. I have another recipe for potato soup from my sister-in-law, but I wanted to try something a bit creamier. I found a recipe from Cooking by the Seat of My Pants for a Thicky and Creamy Potato Soup. It sounded lovely and just what I was looking for. Even better, I had most of the ingredients on hand, which is something I always look for in a recipe.
The recipe itself is pretty straightforward. First, you're going to want to cook up some bacon. You can do this in a pan, (I typically do) but the recipe suggested baking it in the oven. As much as I love bacon, I don't really enjoy cooking it, so I thought baking it might be up my alley.
Ah, bacon...
The recipe suggested cooking it on a cooling rack to keep it nice and flat. It did the trick, but honestly didn't crisp up as quickly as I would have liked. It probably took 25 minutes or so and still wasn't "crumbly." Next time I'll risk that crinkly bacon and just throw it on a sheet pan and bake it in 15 minutes.
Now, don't toss all that lovely bacon grease. Carefully pour a tablespoon or two into your soup pot.
And add your diced up onion. The recipe calls for a whole onion, I used a leftover half. And probably should have cut the bacon grease accordingly, but I didn't think about it at the time! Simmer that up until it's nice and transclucent.

Then grow in your diced up garlic and cook another minute or two.
Toss in your potatoes. They should be one inch cubes but who has time to cube a potato?
Well, maybe some people do. But I certainly don't.
At any rate, mix up your potatoes. Give it a minute to start sizzling.
And add enough chicken stock to cover the potatoes. This is about where the recipe and I seemed to have different opinions. First, it called for about 32 oz. of chicken stock. I easily used 42 oz., and still felt like I could have added more.
At this point, you're supposed to throw the lid on and let it simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. Perhaps because I didn't "cube" my potatoes, but my cooking time ended up being more like 35 minutes.
It was a late dinner.
I'm sorry to say it, but things got pretty crazy in my kitchen about then. So you'll have to use your imagination because I don't have pictures.
Loosely mash up the potatoes with a potato masher (or giant spoon!). Throw about half of your soup into a food processor/blender/KitchenAid and puree.
Pour the puree back into the mashed potatoes. Add your butter, and cream. (I didn't say this was a healthy recipe, did I?) Stir, add seasonings, and add more chicken stock if you want it less-thick. I certainly did. Honestly, this would make a fantastic mashed potato recipe if you halved the chicken stock and left out the bacon.
When your soup is ready to go, crumble your bacon and stir in. Serve, and add some additional bacon, and possibly chopped green onions, on top as a garnish if you desire.
If you have kids that are totally starving at this point, omit the garnish and just feed the lil' monsters. I mean, the lil' sweeties.
Oh, I also added a little milk to the kiddies' soup to cool it down quickly. They really were hungry at this point! Overall, absolutely delicious. And even though the ingredients weren't high on the health food list, the soup is so filling it's unlikely you'll overindulge. Everyone loved the soup and we're having the leftovers for lunch today. Here's the recipe...

Thick and Creamy Potato Bacon Soup

1/2 lb (1/2 package) thick cut pepper bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped
2 – 3 tbsp. Bacon drippings
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 lbs. russet or red potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes
42 oz. chicken stock (approximate)
1/2 pint heavy cream
1/8 lb (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon using preferred method until crisp. (I bake thick cut bacon on a cooling rack over a sheet pan so that it remains flat). Allow to cool and chop or crumble into small pieces. Reserve several tablespoons of drippings. (add more bacon drippings if onions look dry. This will depend on the size of your pot and particular onion.)

Place a large soup pot or heavy casserole over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp. bacon drippings and cook onions, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for a few minutes. When everything is sizzling nicely, add enough stock to just cover potatoes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.

Mash potatoes roughly with a potato masher. Scoop out about half of the remaining mixture and puree in a blender (in batches!) or food processor. (Or if you’ve got an immersion blender, go for it with that.) Make sure to leave a good bit of the potatoes chunky, for texture.

Add butter and heavy cream. Stir to combine well. Taste for seasoning and add more stock if soup is too thick for your liking. When the consistency is right for you, stir in bacon and bring to just a bare simmer, stirring often.

Serve hot. Garnish with additional crumbled bacon and some chives or green onions.
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