Loaded Baked Potato Soup

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We have made this a few times now.  It is very good and quick to make. 
Loaded Baked Potato Soup

4 large baking potatoes
12 slices bacon
1/2 medium sweet onion , diced fine
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups half and half
8 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
Salt and ground black pepper
3 green onions chopped, green part only

Optional garnishes
grated cheese
green onions
sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the potatoes on a sheet tray or directly onto the oven rack and bake for 45 minutes - or until done, or you can microwave them--5 minute per potatoe.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside.

Into the remaining bacon fat, add the diced onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Then add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.

Now, add the flour to the onions and garlic and stir to combine. Continue cooking for another minute or two - but do not brown.

Pour in the chicken stock and milk while you stir well to incorporate. Cook over medium heat until the soup has thickened, stirring quite frequently, about 10-15 minutes.

While the soup is thickening, slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and then scoop the potatoes out away from the skins and then add them to the soup. With a fork or the back of your spoon, break up the potatoes a bit.

Add the 3/4 of the bacon pieces (reserving 1/4 for garnish) and half of the grated cheese to the soup. Stir until the cheese has melted. Taste and adjust the seasonings well with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and ladle into bowls. Garnish with extra bacon, grated cheese and green onions.