Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch as our family of 6 eats on $7 (oops, you caught that did you--this challenge is giving me a run for my money) a day.
I was looking for a way to use leftover baked potatoes. This is an excellent way. Excellent. It evokes baked potato goodness; it uses up a leftover; and it's quite tasty.
But. (Pesky little word isn't it?)
This soup would be even better if you didn't use baked potatoes. I hate to say it. I really really wanted this to be perfect as is, but the fact is that the potatoes are better if boiled in the chicken broth instead of merely thrown in near the end and mashed up a bit. Ah well. If you've got baked potatoes, use 'em. It makes this a 30-minute (or less) meal. If not, it takes a little longer. But it tastes a little better.
Baked Potato Soup
Source: Adapted from my friend Sally who is a positively amazing cook.
Prep time: 10 minutes if you're potatoes are already baked; longer if you need to chop the potatoes as well
Cook time: 10-15 minutes with baked potatoes; 20-30 with raw potatoes
(bacon: .25, onion: .20, celery: .05, chicken broth (with buillion): .25, potatoes: .40, cream: .25, milk: .10, cheese: .40, other stuff: .05)
3 strips bacon
1 small onion or a good dash onion powder (I used the powder; Kip doesn't like chunky onions)
1/2 C sliced celery (1 large stalk)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp pepper
3 C chicken broth
6-8 small to medium sized baked potatoes (I used Russet, but think it would have been better with red or yukon gold)
1/3 C cream
2/3 C milk
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (didn't use because didn't have, but it adds a nice touch and just a bit of heat)
1 oz cheddar cheese for garnish (optional, but I highly recommend it)
chives for garnish (optional)
sour cream for garnish (optional)
If using baked potatoes:
Cook bacon until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Saute onion, celery, in drippings, adding garlic when almost done. When the vegetables are fairly tender, stir in the flour (if most or all of your bacon drippings are gone, as mine were, add 1-2 Tbsp butter to the pot and melt it before adding flour. Also, you can leave the veggies in the grease and just mix them up with the grease and flour). The fat and flour will create a roux, or a thick paste that will then serve to thicken your broth. Add broth, whisking as you do. Bring to boil. Boil and stir until thickened somewhat. Add the potatoes, crumbling them into the broth. Add cream, milk, and hot pepper sauce. Heat through. If desired, mash the potatoes somewhat by sticking a potato masher right in the pot.
Garnish with bacon, cheese, chives, and/or sour cream.
If using raw potatoes:
Begin by boiling diced potatoes in the 3 C chicken broth. As they cook, prepare your bacon and then your vegetables as described above. Prepare your roux with the flour and fat. Gradually pour the milk in and whisk until it thickens (probably about 1 minutes). Add the potatoes and broth; stir or whisk it up well so it's all incorporated, and let it simmer until thickened somewhat. Add cream and hot sauce. Again, you can mash some of the potatoes with a potato masher if that's your thing (it's our thing). Garnish as you wish.