Recipe: Loaded baked potato soup

Okay let's be entirely clear here, this is one of those "this is what *I* did" moments that you aren't expected to follow this recipe. But it was fun, so let's go through it!

First, we chopped the bacon into roughly half-inch chunks. Like, over a pound of bacon. Go for it. Turned on the dutch oven and rendered the fat out; once it was about half cooked, it was obvious it wasn't going to brown in the puddle of lard going on so I scooped out the bacon & put it in the cast iron pan that most needed some more seasoning, topped that bacon with black pepper, and finished frying it up.

We only had a half an onion in the house, so Mr. Moon chopped that up and we got it sweating in the dutch oven with the rendered bacon grease. A whole onion would have been nicer, but you take what you can get.

Then it was time for roughly 3 lbs of potatoes. Peels on. Now, I had Mr. Moon cut these up SMALL. Like, small dice, 1/4 inch squares. I SHOULD have in this case had him start with half inch dices, to get the first half in the pan quickly, but so they wouldn't cook quite as fast while we awaited the second half of the potatoes being diced. Anyway. We didn't. 1/3 of the diced-tiny potatoes went in the pan first.

Tried to brown up those bad boys a bit, and when the pan was getting a bit too brown from the starches, I deglazed a bit with some turkey stock. The starch, the fat, a little moisture, and those potatoes started breaking down into a beautiful creamy base. Then we added the second third of potatoes.

Then it was a matter of adding some garlic, pepper, a bit of salt. Make sure those potatoes were nicely seasoned. As soon as the last batch of potatoes went in, the first batch was really creaming up while the second absorbed a bunch of steam; it was getting a bit dry in the pot and I was ready for it to simmer down.

I poured in the rest of the (16 oz) box of turkey stock. I didn't have any celery on hand, but I had cream of celery soup, so despite my reservations about putting cream in this early in the process, I decided I'd just get that going & keep the temperature kind of low. I started pouring, and this stuff was broth & green--so I checked the package again. CREAMY celery soup. Ingredients: blah blah, almond milk, potatoes. Oh. Not cream that's going to break, but stuff that tastes creamy & can handle a little simmering. Awesome. Poured that whole box in there, added a giant spoonful of leftover carrot-pumpkin soup (which I hadn't been happy with as soup but is good as carrot puree), and left that pot on medium heat to bubble. {Substitution: Use 1 carrot, grated in here or chopped and put in with the onion. If you don't have the celery soup, put a chopped stalk of celery in with the onions & add another 32 oz stock of choice.}

It was surprisingly easy to differentiate between the three batches of potatoes. As soon as the third batch was cooked enough to not be crunchy, I pulled out the immersion blender & creamed that soup up. Not all of it, I left a bunch of chunks, but enough to really thicken it. Adjusted my seasonings, and yummy.

By now it was 1:45am, and we were hungry, but I was worried about cream breaking if I added it to the boiling soup. We turned off the heat, threw in 6 ice cubes, and I stirred very carefully not letting the ice cubes hit the walls of the dutch oven lest the heat differential crack something. When the ice cubes were done, the soup was back to a nice soupy consistency, as opposed to a runny-mashers consistency.

We served a good 3 ladles (at 8 oz each!) into bowls, added an ounce or so of cream and stirred it in. I was worried about the cream breaking if we had any leftovers being reheated later, so I didn't want it in the full batch of soup. Topped with cheese, bacon crumbles, and sour cream; chives if we's had any.

Voila, loaded baked potato soup. And it only took an hour and a half to make. It really wouldn't have taken that long if we'd done the potatoes in 2 batches of 1/2 inch dice & then 1/4 inch dice, because it would have taken less time to cut the first half which would have had plenty of time to cook properly.

Oh honey it was soon good though.


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