Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Best Baked Potato Soup Ever!

I figured it out! I have discovered the best Baked Potato Soup ever. Ever! Seriously it is restaurant quality. It is a variation on "Hard Rock Cafe Baked Potato Soup" from the CopyKat site. I will tell you up front that it is not healthy nor does it even try to be. OK, maybe I made one little substitution to make it a tiny bit healthier but when you use a half a package of bacon, including the rendered fat from the bacon, the fat content of the milk isn't your biggest problem. Enjoy!

Best Baked Potato Soup Ever
half a package of partially frozen bacon (just cut the package in half)
1 C. diced yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
2/3 C. Flour
6 C. chicken broth (warming in another pot on the stove)
4-5 diced peeled baked potatoes 
2 C. heavy cream, whole, or 2% milk
1/4 C. chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 Tsp. Dried basil
1 1/2 Tsp. Tabasco or other hot sauce
1 1/2 Tsp. coarse black pepper
2 C. grated cheddar cheese (1 cup is melted into the soup, 1 cup for topping)
1/4 C. Diced green onion (optional, because I never have any!)

Recommended Kitchen Equipment:
Big stock pot, whisk, wire mesh strainer, and stick blender

First, in the morning while you are getting ready for work bake your potatoes. 4-5 potatoes in the oven for 1 hour on 400 degrees should do the trick. Prick them a few times to let the steam release. You don't have to be fancy and rub them with oil and salt or anything. Just wash them, that would be a good thing. Doing this step early in the day allows the potato's starches to congeal and makes them easier to peal and chop and I think it helps them not fall apart once they are in the soup. I would say they need to be room temperature for at least an hour before chopping so plan ahead a bit. I like to do it first thing in the morning just to get it out of the way. Just leave them on the counter to cool for the rest of the day, no need to refrigerate unless you won't be making soup for more than 8 hours.

Peel and chop the potatoes. Use a nice sharp knife and chop into small cubes. Sometimes I do this at the beginning and sometimes I do this while the soup is simmering. Either way you won't be adding them til the end anyways.

Cook the bacon (my husband's favorite part!) Chop up partially frozen bacon, it is sooo much easier when it is partially frozen. Otherwise its like chopping up slimy worms, seriously. 

Strain the bacon out of the grease. I just use a big spoon and my handy wire mesh strainer. Save the bacon for topping the soup. DO NOT throw out the grease! You will need its magic next.

Cook the onion and garlic in the bacon fat til the onion is soft and translucent.

Now add the 2/3 cup flour to the bacon fat, onions, garlic and stir it up really good, it will be a bit lumpy at this point but no worries. Then add the warm chicken broth 1 cup at a time using a whisk, it will be really thick at the beginning but make sure to add 1 cup at a time and stir it til completely incorporated before adding the other cup. The broth needs to be warm or else it is really super hard to get the lumps out. Once you have added about 4 cups you should be able to add the remaining broth with no trouble. Now for the fun part!

Use your handy dandy stick blender to blend up all the onions, garlic, and any flour lumps. If you don't have a stick blender you can with GREAT CAUTION use a regular blender. BE CAREFUL because hot liquids will EXPLODE in a blender if you don't pulse with quick pulses and make sure to leave a little space to let steam out the top. I am in love with my stick blender, it is hands down one of the best $20-30 you will spend in your kitchen. Get yourself one! They. Rock. This is the one I have and its my best friend. It makes hummus, smoothies, frothy milk, salad dressing, etc. 

Add all your spices and milk, the basil and parsley will float on the top but after simmering for about 20-30 minutes it will thicken and the basil/parley will be incorporated, then you will know it is ready for the potatoes.

Add the potatoes and cheese! Stir gently to incorporate the potatoes, but you will be surprised at how well they stay together if you let your baked potatoes sit all day. Once the potatoes are heated through you are done!!

Top with your bacon and extra cheese!

Your children will love it!
(Oh, and its delicious the next day and it freezes great!)