Friday, August 6, 2010
Baked Potato Soup
Baked potato soup has to be, hands down, one of my favorite spoon-eaten meals. It's also my kiddo's most recent favorite lunch. We go to Panera Bread every week and she always wants a bowl. I decided to make some for lunch at home.
Being that it is the middle of summer here in Oklahoma, and the average daily temperature is hovering around 285º Fahrenheit, I'm loathe to use my oven right now. Crock pot to the rescue! I've used my slow cooker once before to make baked potatoes in this heat, and while the result wasn't my husband's favorite for a side item with steak, it is perfectly fine for other applications.
I started off with about one and a half pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes (about 7 medium). If you've not yet tried Yukons, get on it! Their flavor and texture is far superior to the more common Russet. Their skins are thin and perfect for skin-on eating. There's an abundance of good-for-you fiber and nutrients in them thar skins, so leave your peeler in the drawer.
I put the crock pot on low, made a large pouch out of foil, and put the whole taters in it. Before closing the pouch, I poked each potato with a knife, spritzed on some Pam, and sprinkled them liberally with kosher salt. After cooking them overnight, I turned off the crock pot and took my kid to the library for story time.
By the time we came home, the whole potatoes had cooled enough to handle. I cubed them and set them aside while I started on the soup base.
Mmmmm...bacon. I diced up 4 strips of bacon and cooked them in a stock pot. After the bacon is crispy, remove it to a small bowl and pour off all but about a tablespoon of the grease.
Saute some chopped onion (about 1/2 cup), celery (1 stalk), and garlic (2 medium cloves) in the remaining bacon fat until just starting to soften. Sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of flour and stir.
Add 1 cup chicken broth and 3 cups milk, scraping the bottom of the pan with the spoon to get up all that delicious brown stuff, called "fond" by the French. It's pure flavor.
Add the cubed potatoes to the pot and simmer for about ten minutes, or until the celery and onion are tender. Mash the potatoes slightly. Don't obliterate them- you want some good chunks in there.
To make this soup really thick and good, I pureed about 4 ladles-full in the blender. Be careful with this step. Make sure you hold the lid on or you could splatter yourself with very hot soup.
Return the pureed portion to the pot, stir well, and season to taste with salt and pepper. I threw in a palm full of chopped chives from my garden. You could also use thinly sliced green onions. It really gives a good flavor boost. Yum!
Posted by The Errant Cook