Thursday, February 10, 2011

Double Take: Baked Potato Soup

While thinking about how to write up this soup, I couldn't get the following song out of my head.

"Won't yoooouuuu bring back? Won't you bring back?...Mrs. Muuuurphy's chowder!"

Its a song about a soup that had a little bit of everything in it and is very silly. If you've never heard it before, here's a pretty good version of it. The video is a little jumpy but the sound quality is good.

Its just a silly song which is probably why I like it so much. This soup isn't Mrs. Murphy's chowder. However it could easily be adapted to have many more elements to make it more fun to eat. When I cook, I tend to adapt things to my taste anyway. This recipe is no exception but I did try to minimize my changes so that I was pretty well evaluating their recipe. One thing that couldn't be helped was the addition of 4 cloves of garlic. Clearly, they must have ACCIDENTALLY forgotten to list it, right? Right? Oh well, garlic was in there and I'll go ahead and tell you that my friend Lauren and I really enjoyed it. It was great on a chilly day. As a Southern girl, it didn't feel right to eat "tater soup" without cornbread so I stirred up some homemade cornbread and popped it in the oven while the soup simmered on the stove. I'll list out how I made it and you can judge for yourself.

Baked Potato Soup (adapted from Southern Living)  (This version makes 4-5 servings)

3 - 4 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. all purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 c. 2% milk
1/2 tsp salt
a pinch of black pepper (seriously, if you want to measure 1/16 tsp go for it)
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
4 slices of bacon, cooked

How To:

1. Wash potatoes with soap and water. (If you need to know why, consider that this is root vegetable and the skin can have exposure to manure when fertilized. Need I say more?)

2. Pierce the potatoes with 2 to 3 lines along one side to give them "room to breathe" (a.k.a. airholes for steam to escape). Place the potatoes in the microwave for about 10 minutes.

3. Cook your bacon. Go ahead and cook it in the pot you plan to make the soup in if you like. When the bacon is done, leave the bacon grease in the pot. You'll be glad you did later. Bacon grease gives good flavor.

4. Add 1-2 Tbsp of butter to the pot along with your bacon grease. (If your bacon made over 1 Tbsp of grease, just use one Tbsp if you like. If you don't prefer bacon, just use 2 Tbsp of butter, no problem.) While the butter heats to a medium heat setting, chop up your onion and garlic. Check your butter/grease temp by wetting your finger tips with water and flicking your fingers. Don't stand to close. If you get a nice popping, toss in your onions and garlic.

5. Saute the onions and garlic until the onions are tender, taking on a yellowing color. Add 1/3 c. all purpose flour and stir around until you have a paste. (This is pretty much making a gravy base.)

5.5. While the onions are cooking and the potatoes are cooling is a good time to stir up your cornbread.

6. Peel the skins off your potatoes and mash them up with a fork or potato masher. (You can even use a pastry cutter if it makes you happy.)

7. When your flour mixture is smoothly incorporated (no dobs of dry flour), add the cream, milk, potatoes, salt and pepper. Cook at a simmer until you're ready to eat. I simmered this mixture for at least 20 minutes because was waiting on the cornbread to get done. I think simmering 20-30 minutes is a good plan to let the flavors come together but its up to you. Most soups taste better after they sit a bit.

8. Top with cheddar and crumbled bacon. Don't forget some butter for your hot cornbread.


Lauren and I both liked this soup. I realize my preparation changes may have enhanced the flavor some but in general the changes were slight (using bacon grease and adding garlic). I also used black pepper instead of white pepper. It kept the recipe a little simpler. If you want to make this more festive you could also add green onions and even steam some broccoli and throw it in the soup. I would not substitute one onion for the other. The base has to have something to give it body and flavor. Note: My mom doesn't cook with onions or garlic. Growing up we ate potato soup though. She always sliced the potatoes and boiled them before making a broth. When she cooked her broth she added a lot of chives. The chives are not as flavorful as making a soup base with onion. If you have no other option, use chives but don't expect your soup to have as much body or flavor.

Check out Mel's reaction and see her version of this recipe at Fabulously Fun Food.