Yeah it’s the middle of summer, and in Florida most evenings its still over 100 degrees when it comes time to start dinner and the last thing you want to do is make a hot steamy soup. But there are those nights when the storms roll in and the thunder begins to clap and all you can think of is throwing on a pair of sweats and snuggling on the couch with a good movie and nice bowl of comfort. And for me, comfort involves thick, creamy soups. The great thing about this recipe is that almost everyone has all the ingredients on hand, so when the storms start rolling in you can whip this soup up in no time and spend the rest of the evening vegging on the couch.
Loaded Baked Potato Soup
½ package of thick cut bacon (about 5 slices)
2 tablespoons reserved bacon drippings
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 lbs red potatoes washed well and chopped into 1 inch pieces. Leave the skins on!
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
32 oz low sodium chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
½ pint heavy cream
½ stick butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheddar cheese and chives / scallions for garnish
Heat a large stock pot over medium heat, slice bacon into ¼ pieces and sauté until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the pot. Add onions to bacon drippings and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the fresh thyme and cut potatoes to the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes allowing the potatoes to get evenly coated with the onions, garlic and herbs. Add enough chicken stock to the pot to just cover the potatoes. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes become fork tender.
Mash potatoes roughly with a fork or potato masher. Scoop out half the mixture and puree in a blender until smooth then return to pot. If you have an immersion blender even better, just give the soup a few pulses. You want a creamy soup but still a nice bit of chunky potatoes for texture.
Add butter and heavy cream to pot. Stir to combine and season to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock until you have your desired consistency. Stir in half the bacon and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve in large bowls garnished with sharp cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon and fresh chives or green onions.