baked potato soupPosted: January 3, 2012
With frosty temperatures across the U.S. today (highs in the 20s and lows in the teens here in the Northeast), soup is the obvious solution for dinner. When I was checking the weather (which I do obsessively!) a few days ago and saw how cold it was supposed to be today, I vowed to just stay in my cozy little apartment all day (one of the benefits of being a grad student). The next day, I got an email from the library informing me that a book that is past the renewal limit is due today, which means that I have to go all the way in to campus (grad student life not looking so great anymore). In any case, I made a batch of this baked potato soup yesterday, so I will at least have the leftovers to warm me up when I make it back.
This genius idea for potato soup comes from the SmittenKitchen. It doesn’t actually involve baked potatoes, which would be a pain to deal with; one just puts the toppings to a baked potato onto potato soup – thus making it less healthy, but certainly more delicious (not to mention prettier in pictures!). There will no doubt be plenty of days during the next few months when a thick, warming, hearty bowl of soup will be just the thing you need after braving the chill outside.
Baked Potato Soup
I’ve made a few minor tweaks here and there to the original recipe. The original offered a range of quantities of broth you could use, depending on how chunky you wanted the soup, but even using the highest quantity of broth I found that the soup was very thick indeed – any less broth and I might’ve had mashed potatoes instead of potato soup. I’ve also cut the quantity of bay leaves, as I remember finding the flavor to be a bit overpowering the first time I made this last year. The soup can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth and, of course, omitting the bacon.
1 head garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and chopped small
6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup sour cream
Ground black pepper, to taste
Minced fresh chives
Bacon (I crumble up about 1 slice into each bowl of soup)
Anything else that you like on baked potatoes!
Rinse the garlic head to remove any dirt clinging to the outside. Cut off the top third of the head. Peel the skin off of the garlic bits you have just cut off from the head and mince them. Peel any loose papery bits away from the bottom two-thirds of the garlic head, but leave the rest of the skins intact.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add the chopped leeks and cook for five minutes until softened but not browned, stirring often. Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the rest of the garlic head (it should still be whole), the 1/2 bay leaf, broth, and salt. Bring to a simmer, then cook at a low simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the cloves in the garlic head are very tender. Add potatoes and cover partially. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender and easily broken apart with a fork. (While the potatoes are simmering, you can prepare the toppings – cook however many slices of bacon you need, grate some cheddar, mince some chives, etc.)
Remove bay leaves and garlic head. If you want the soup to be extra garlicky, you can squeeze out the garlic cloves, mashed them, and return them to the soup. I’ve never done this. Otherwise, throw away the bay leaves and garlic head.
Add 1/3 cup sour cream to soup and cook 2-3 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. The final step is to puree the soup to whatever texture you prefer, using whatever appliance you have for pureeing – if you have an immersion blender, by all means put it to use here. I envy you. Otherwise, puree the soup in the blender or food processor. If you use the blender, be careful to only fill it about half full of soup each time – otherwise the steam can force off the lid, sending scalding soup all over the kitchen and you. You can also use a food mill, which is what I did, since I no longer have a blender, and my food processor is super small. I ran the soup through the large disk, and ended up with a moderately chunky texture. Once the soup is pureed, it is ready to be served. Add whatever toppings you like. The soup can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator and reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Adapted from SmittenKitchen