Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baked Potato Soup

This is a great soup for warming you up on a cold evening, and also a great way to use up leftover baked potatoes.  When I don't have leftovers I just "bake" my potatoes in the microwave and they work just great.  The thing I love about this soup is that it keeps a soupy consistency even when it's reheated.  It seems like other potato soups get soooooooo thick the longer they sit that you no longer have soup, you have a clumpy glob.  A tasty glob, but a glob none the less :) 

Also, the original recipe called for bacon that you fry and crumble to put on top of the soup as a garnish, using the fat to cook the onions.  We don't eat much bacon around here and I don't like buying a whole package of bacon for a few strips.  When we do eat bacon it's usually when we have family visiting.  At those times I'll save the bacon fat from the pan in a small freezer container and then I can just pull out a tablespoon or two when I need that flavor in the recipe without having to deal with all the extra bacon.  So, long story short, if you like bacon and have it in your house, by all means fry some up and throw that in the soup!  Otherwise, save some next time you have company and you'll be ready to go anytime you need a little bacony goodness. :)

4-1/2 bacon strips, diced (or skip this and use reserved fat, see above)
1-1/2 small onion, chopped
1-2 stalks celery, diced
1-1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup and 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
3/4 teaspoon pepper
4-1/2 cups chicken broth
3 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
3/4 tsp. hot sauce (I like Tapatio brand.  It doesn't have that sharp vinegar flavor that Tobasco has)

Optional toppings:
crumbled bacon from above, hot pepper sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, minced chives, sour cream.

In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings (or skip this step and use reserved bacon fat). Set bacon aside. Saute onion, celery and garlic in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour, salt, basil and pepper mixing well till flour is golden. Gradually add broth, stirring with a whisk to break up any chunks of flour. Bring to boil, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, half-and-half and hot pepper sauce; heat through but do not boil- it will curdle. Garnish with bacon, cheese, sour cream and chives to your liking.

Serves 6               

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