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Monday, October 25, 2010

What to do with all these potatoes!!!

Hey all!

I know it's been a couple of months since my last post. For those who don't know I was ill and it lingered and kept coming back. I didn't do much cooking while I was sick! No energy, motivation nor appetite! But alas- I'm feeling better, inside and out, and am back to cooking, and it feels great! For me it's theraputic, really. Come over and hang out in my kitchen for a while- you'll see just what I mean! I get all excited just thinking about what I'm going to cook, how I might vary it from original recipes or ideas, how I might boost flavors, or add something to simplify the steps- like using peppered bacon- pepper, and bacon, smoky and salty- all sorts of flavors to impart to what your cooking, and it's just one ingredient. Which brings me to today's recipe...

Well, fall is hitting us hard in the Pacific Northwest, blowing down trees and houses falling in to the ocean! YIKES! So, we've needed something warm, comforting and hearty- I need to feel full after dinner! And potatoes have been on sale dirt cheap lately which is why I have about 15 pounds or so laying around. I was able to grab 15 # of potatoes for $1.49- ya' HAVE to buy that kind of a deal! Mind you, there's only 2 people in the house, and that's a TON of potatoes to eat! I hate seeing things go to waste, so I made potato gnocchi (which I haven't put in a pot yet, so I don't know if the recipe is good enough to share yet... oh, and when I scooped out the potato from the skins to use in my gnocchi dough, I made sure to leave the skins intact for use some other time as loaded potato skins, along with some wings maybe! Double duty!) and last night- LOADED BAKED POTATO SOUP! This was killer, and I walked away unable to eat another bite! It was better than the Select Soups we buy at Safeway, most assuredly!!! And, it was a cinch! I baked the potatoes while I was watching football (what a heartbreaking Dolphins loss to the Steelers, 23-22), and then it all came together in about 30 minutes. So, it's reasonable to think you could do this on a weeknight after work provided you'd already cooked the potatoes, and have dinner on the table, and sit and rest afterwards feeling satisfied but not overwhelmed.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

6          Medium russet potatoes
3C       Stock, chicken or vegetable (I used veggie stock I made from freezing vegetable scraps for a month)
1/2       Medium onion, finely chopped
1 rib     Celery, finely chopped
3          Strips of bacon, chopped (peppered preferably; seasons your soup!)
1T        Canola/vegetable oil
3T        Flour
2-1/2C Half-n-half (could use regular milk; if using straight cream, use a mix of cream and milk)
1/2C     Sour cream
1/4C     Shredded sharp cheddar
1/3C     Shredded white cheddar
             Small handful of chopped chives
             Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preparing the potatoes: scrub 'em, and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Pull out of oven and let cool.
  2. Once the potatoes are done, and cooled, cut them in half (length-wise) and start scooping out the insides. If you leave some skin on all the better!. Chop in to chunks that are able to fit on to a spoon. Put about 2 double handfuls aside, separate.
  3. In a dutch oven or large soup pot, add the bacon and cook over medium high heat. As it is done to your liking, remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate or tray for later use. Leave the bacon grease in the pan.
  4. Add 1 T of oil to the pan, depending on how much fat is rendered from the bacon (left over in the pan). You want what looks like about 3 T of oil/fat/grease all together.
  5. Add the onion and celery, and stir for about 90 seconds, maybe 2 minutes. The celery should be bright, and the onions are starting to appear translucent or see-through.
  6. Add the 3 T of flour, and stir. Reduce heat to medium, and stir for about 1-1/2 minutes without burning! If it's drying out too fast, turn the heat down, and move the pan off the burner about half-way. You're making a roux, and it should be blonde in color when you're done, and all the oil should be absorbed.
  7. Put stock in the microwave for 2 minutes to get it good and hot.
  8. Add in the stock to the soup pot slowly, wisking/stirring to make sure there's not lumps. Stir for about a minute, and the heat should be at about medium.
  9. Put all the dairy (1/2-n-1/2, milk, cream, sour cream- whatever you're using) in a large bowl. Ladle out 1 ladle full of the hot stock from the soup pot, and slowly, a little at a time, wisk/stir briskly in to the dairy bowl, so you don't curdle the cream components. You're going to temper the dairy slowly bringing it up to temperature (temper's right in the word temperature even!), so it doesn't curdle when you add it to the stock pot. Adding cold dairy to hot liquids = CURDLE!
  10. Add one more ladle full of hot stock to the dairy, wisking/stirring briskly.
  11. Add the dairy to the soup pot.
  12. Add the 2 double handfuls of potatoes to the soup pot. If you have an immersion blender, now's one of those great times you get to use it! If not, get a potato masher, and mash/blend the potatoes and the soup base until thick.
  13. Bring to a boil. Any time you add flour or starch to a soup/gravy, it won't thicken until it is brought to a boil (the temperature gets the starches to break free), and then simmered for 5 to 10 minutes. If your soup is getting too thick, add some water- NOT DAIRY, unless you pop it into the microwave to warm it up a bit.
  14. Reduce to simmer, add 1/2 of the chives and cheese and 1/2 of the bacon you cooked.
  15. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve with some chives and bacon on top! You're done!


  1. Yeah,... I'm back... feels good!

  2. you are very sexy, i would love to come cook with you in your kitchen :)