Baked Potato Soup

I love soup. I make quite a few variations on most of my soups. Soup is great because it is so flexible with what you have on hand and what kind of mood you may be in for dinner. Whip up a loaf of homemade french bread, or some delicious garlic parmesan rolls and it’s a great way to end a long day.

2 T. butter
1 T. flour
5 cups whole milk

Two baked potatoes smashed or diced
1 carrot peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery thinly sliced
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Sour Cream
6 slices cooked bacon, chopped
First melt a T. of butter in a small pan, then whisk in the flour. When that is a smooth paste add 2 T. of milk and whisk, and keep repeating until a thick sauce has formed. Then add one cup of milk and set aside.

Next, in a large stock pot, melt another T. of butter and add the chopped potato, carrot, celery, onion, and garlic, and saute until the onions are translucent. Then, add the chicken stock and let simmer over medium heat to cook veggies through.

When the veggies have cooked, add the roux and the remaining whole milk and stir. Let it come to a soft boil then add 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (sharp cheddar is best, it has more flavor but any cheddar will work). Let it heat and whisk it as the cheese melts into the soup base. Now add the salt, pepper, and cholula to taste.

When the cheese is fully melted, turn heat to low, and let it cool. Once it is serving temperature, add in 1/2 cup of sour cream. It is VERY important not to overheat it with the sour cream in the soup because sour cream will curdle if overheated, so don’t heat it above a low stove top temp. Top with chopped bacon and enjoy!

Warm Tomato Bisque

Super easy, super yummy, super fast. Perfect for lunch after church, or a quick dinner, or maybe even a quick meal for a friend.

1 T. butter
1 T. flour
4 cups whole milk
1 to 2 cans tomato paste (depending on how creamy or tomato-y you want the final product to be)
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. basil
1/2 t. white pepper
1 cup chicken broth (or substitutions as mentioned below)
1-2 T. cholula hot sauce
1/2 to 1 cup of small pasta

Measure 1 T. butter into a big pan, turned to med-high heat and 1 T. flour into the melting butter. Whisk flour and butter into a thick paste and let it heat for a minute. The smoother it becomes, the better the end results of the soup will be.

Basically, we are making a roux, which is the base for gravy, cream soups, and many other sauces.

Once the flour and butter have heated and turned into a thick paste you will add a bit of whole milk, only a bit, and then whisk it in really well. It will be really smooth and really thick, then slowly add more and more milk, maybe 1/4 C. at a time until it is a thick creamy texture, whisking after every milk addition. This may seem tedious, but it will go fast and will give you a really smooth texture with no lumps for your soup base. Once you have added about 1-1/2 cups of whole milk your base is ready.

Next, you want to add in the remaining milk. I put in about 4 cups total of whole milk, then whisk it really well and let it heat over medium until it bubbles and boils. You want it to boil this way for about two minutes. If you skip this step the milk will curdle when you add the tomato, and the soup will not be good.

To the cream soup base add 1 t. garlic powder, 1/2 t. onion powder, 1/2 t. thyme, 1/2 t. basil, 1/2 t. white pepper, and one cup of chicken broth (or one cube boullion and one cup of water, or 1 t. chicken soup base with one cup of water). Now, for a little bite, add 1 to 2 T. of Cholula hot sauce (optional). Bring this nice mixture to a boil and let it thicken a bit as it boils.

Once  it has been boiling for a few minutes add in one can of tomato paste and whisk it evenly into the mix. When this is well mixed add another cup of water and bring to a soft boil, then add a handful of the pasta of your choice and boil until pasta is tender (check the pasta as it boils, it will take longer to boil and may need additional water added if the cooking seems to stall, but be cautious with adding water, you don’t want to over do it, I always have a tasting spoon nearby to make sure I don’t over do it on water.)

When the pasta is cooked through, turn the heat back to low and take the final step, a taste test. It may need salt. If it does, add kosher salt a half teaspoon at a time stirring in and then tasting again. Remember, it is always easy to add more salt than to remove salt. Now, get ready to eat! And probably cry. I almost did.

As always, all spices and quantities are optional. If you want to add a different flavor or cut one of the existing, definitely go for it.

Some really nice additions to this soup are fresh mozarella, sour cream, and/or fresh basil.

Cheesy Potato Soup

1 T. butter
1/4-1/3 c. bacon cooked and crumbled
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
1/2 c. celery diced
1/2 c. carrot diced
1 c. potato diced
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 c. water
1 1/4 T. chicken base
4 c. milk
4 oz. cream cheese
1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 – 1 tsp. onion salt (to taste)

In large stock pot, saute butter, bacon, green onion, garlic, carrots, celery, potato, and pepper until vegetables become tender.

Pour in water and add chicken base then boil over medium heat until water decreases by half, and potatoes are soft. Reduce heat to low.

Add milk, cream cheese and cheddar cheese. Whisk lightly until cheeses are melted. Reduce heat to very lowest setting, add sour cream and onion salt. Allow sour cream to melt into soup, and whisk lightly.

Serve immediately.

Warning: do not boil at all after adding the milk, cheese, and sour cream. This can cause the dairy products to curdle and leave an unpleasant texture to the soup.