“My favorite fall or winter lunch is big steaming bowls of soup.” ~ Ina Garten
It is September, yes? Time to get out the fall decor, and colors and . . . menu.
I love potato soup as a basic, comforting bowl of warmth. It reheats well and tastes delicious. When your child has just gotten braces and her teeth are hurting, it doesn’t require much effort to chew. It also contains some of my favorite ingredients: cheese, sour cream, and butter.
I started my day off easily — watering the plants and talking to them, checking on the tomatoes in the garden, feeding the kittens and playing with them, and then running errands before it got too hot. I spent a few minutes cutting and chopping and frying and . . . voila! Dinner was in the crockpot with nothing to do but go about the day and come home to finish it and enjoy the flavors.
Loaded Baked Potato Soup
2# potatoes diced**
4-5 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 a red onion, diced
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 T. butter
3 c. chicken broth**
Salt and Pepper to taste
3/4 c. sour cream
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. heavy cream
Using a 5 quart crockpot, combine the potatoes, onion, bacon, butter, thyme and chicken broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low 6-7 hours or until potatoes are tender. Mash with a potato masher until the potatoes are almost a pureed consistency, leaving some chunks. Stir in sour cream, cheddar cheese and heavy cream. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or turn crockpot off and let sit 5-10- minutes before serving.
** here are some tips and/or trade-offs if you like to play around with a recipe.
- You can use red potatoes, russet potatoes, white potatoes, any potato you prefer, each will alter the flavor ever so slightly. I prefer the Yukon Gold for appearance and flavor.
- You can use store bought chicken broth or chicken stock. In a pinch you can also use three chicken bouillon cubes and 3 cups of water. I often make my own chicken broth by boiling chicken to be used in other dishes and storing the broth in the fridge or freezer.
- The onion can be red, yellow, or vidalia – the taste again will differ slightly depending on the variety chosen.
- Retain the grease from frying the bacon and add to the crockpot for an extra smokey flavor.
- If you have slightly less than 2# of potatoes, throw in a couple ribs of celery, diced finely to add mass, texture and taste to the soup.
- Cheddar comes in a variety of flavors – sharp, mild, extra sharp. The flavor again will vary depending on the cheese. Explore by using Pepper Jack or Swiss.
- If you like spicy, try adding a finely diced jalapeno to the soup.
- Fresh thyme is packaged in small, clear boxes in the grocery store’s fresh vegetable section. I just throw the entire sprig in the pot and fish it out with a fork when done cooking.
Food is a creative way to explore tastes and textures. Again I really prefer the Yukon gold potatoes, the red onion, homemade chicken broth (it just tastes richer), and sharp cheddar cheese. Pepper Jack runs a close second, but seeing as how this batch was being consumed by a new braces wearer – I made it to suit her tastes more than mine.
After stirring the sour cream, cheese and heavy cream into the crockpot and setting it on warm, we took the dog on a walk which was just enough time for the flavors to meld. The weight is slightly heavy with the density of the potatoes and cream, but the sensation of the warmth as it goes down is one of the most comforting tastes and feelings in the world.