In the past we've looked at a few more refined versions of potato soup. There has been a creamy curried potato soup, a sweet potato soup with miso and ginger, and a roasted garlic and potato soup. But I'm not as polished as the rest of our Kitchn writers. See, this Midwestern girl wants her meat and potatoes and she doesn't always want them to be fancied up — well, unless you consider bacon fancy.
There are so many different ways to make potato soup — it's rather ridiculous. A quick Google search will show you many of the infinite variations. But when it comes to a traditional dish that makes your stomach growl from the other room just thinking about it, accept no substitute for this thick, creamy, and extra-comforting dish.
Now before we start, there are a few disclaimers. This dish isn't low-fat, and it isn't light in calories. Under no circumstances does it even pretend to be the healthiest soup on the block. This dish is a stick-to-your-ribs type meal that can be served at the end of a long day. It falls into the comfort food category and is best eaten in fuzzy slippers and pajamas. Not because that's the attire the meal requires, but because the only thing more comforting than this meal is fuzzy slippers. If you're going to go all out, that's how to do it!
If you already have a few baked potatoes and some cooked bacon in the fridge, this dish comes together in less than five minutes. Make these things ahead so this soup is ready to be thrown together at a moment's notice. There's no long drawn out cooking time for broth; you can literally come home from work and have this meal on the table before your children get a chance to tear the house apart! Fabulous!
As Sarah Rae says, this is exactly the kind of rich and hearty meal you crave at the end of a long day. I tend to see a recipe like this and automatically start thinking about subbing in a lower-fat milk, using yogurt instead of sour cream, and other calorie-cutting techniques. If you have similar instincts, I urge you to curb them for this recipe. It's worth it to go all in and just enjoy the ride. This ridiculously good soup is the very definition of comfort food, and we all need that every now and then.
The only change I actually make is to cut the recipe in half, or even in quarters. As it is, the recipe will feed a whole crowd of very hungry people, which is good for a Super Bowl party or potluck dinner. When it's just my small family, a smaller batch is just the thing for a cozy night in. -Emma
Baked Potato Soup With Bacon, Green Onion & Cheddar
Makes 10-12 servings (depending on how hungry you are!)
If you don't have them already prepared, bake the potatoes and fry the bacon before starting this recipe.
2 sticks (1 cup/16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups whole milk
5 large potatoes, baked and cubed (peeled, if desired)
2 pounds bacon, cooked and crumbled (about 2 cups)
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups sour cream
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Melt the butter in the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk to combine until thickened. Whisking continuously, slowly pour in the milk and whisk until mixture is smooth. Be sure to get the corners of the pan.
Add all of the remaining ingredients and lower the heat to medium. Stir occasionally until the cheese is melted and the soup is warmed through. Be sure to scrape bottom of the pot as you stir so the soup doesn't burn.
Serve when warm and enjoy!
• On using sliced bacon: You can of course start by using sliced bacon and can even hold onto the rendered fat, substituting it for part of the butter called for in the soup recipe. Just reduce your butter accordingly and add it right in.
• On pre-baking your potatoes: Since this recipe uses potatoes that are already baked, you might want to toss a few in the oven the night before to bake them off ahead of time. Baked, they'll keep in the fridge for a week (easily), so dinner can be ready to go any night of the week!
Related: Recipe: Ajiaco (Chicken and Potato) Soup
(Image: Emma Christensen)