Okay. Maybe I should clarify so as to not scare you away from trying the recipe. I'm not saying that this is a difficult, complicated or overly-involved recipe. It's just a little more complex in flavor and has more ingredients in comparison to my "typical, everyday" recipe.
Basically, this version is just slightly more over-the-top. In many fabulous, fabulous ways.
It is thick, luxurious and decadent ... the perfect marriage of everything we all love about potato soup combined with the flavors of a loaded baked potato.
8 baking potatoes, pricked, baked at 350° until tender and allowed to slightly cool (See Note Below)
1/2 pound bacon
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup flour
8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (optional)
2 cups half and half (or an equal combination of milk and heavy cream)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Green onions or chives, snipped (for garnish)
Begin by slightly smashing up the cooled potatoes with a fork or potato masher. Set aside.
In a large soup pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate while reserving drippings in the pan. Crumble or chop bacon once slightly cooled.
Stir onions into bacon drippings, then sprinkle in flour and cook - while stirring - about three minutes while raw flour taste is allowed to "cook out."
Stir in chicken broth - a little at a time. Continue stirring until any possible lumps disappear and until mixture is slightly simmering.
Stir in the smashed potatoes, parsley (if using) and half and half. Allow to simmer over low heat for 7 - 10 minutes. Taste. Season with black pepper and salt (as needed). A portion of the shredded cheese can be blended in at this point OR all can reserved for topping soup at time of service (my preference).
Ladle soup into serving bowls, then garnish with cheese, bacon and green onion/chives.
(Sour cream can be dolloped on top of each serving, if desired, for a true baked potato-like experience, but I prefer the soup without it.)
NOTE: The potatoes can be baked a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. My preference is to bake them the day before or morning of when I plan to prepare the soup. I allow them to slightly cool, then I peel and mash them before storing them in an airtight container in the fridge until just before preparing the soup. However, they certainly can be made just before making the soup, if desired.
Adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian