|Fully Loaded Baked Potato Soup|
I love this soup for it's ease, and the speed to get it from the fridge and onto the table. Plus, it's cheap, cheap, cheap, with the main ingredient being leftover baked potatoes.
When I'm baking potatoes, whether in the microwave or conventional oven, I bake several extras. They make great starters for quick meals, for one person, or for many of us.
When it's just me at home for lunch, I can split a leftover baked potato in half, top with cheese and heat till the cheese is melted. Super quick and easy lunch for one.
For family dinners, leftover baked potatoes can be warmed, as is, or sliced and pan-fried till crispy and golden, to use as a side dish to something like turkey in gravy from the freezer.
|the most important ingredient, the leftover baked potatoes|
I have another use for leftover baked potatoes, that's a huge hit with my family -- Fully Loaded Baked Potato Soup.
Imagine your favorite baked potato with all of the traditional toppings, like sour cream, chives, cheddar cheese and ham or bacon bits. Now put all of that into a pot, with some stock, and you have a hearty soup which can stand alone as small supper or lunch, or be paired with a salad for a satisfying meal.
Throwing together a pot of Fully Loaded Baked Potato soup takes about 20 minutes, from stepping into the kitchen to filling bowls. The bulk of this time is spent chopping onions, celery, herbs and stirring together. It only requires bringing up to a boil, to heat through, as all of the ingredients after cooking the onions and celery, are already cooked.
The "recipe" is more a guide of suggestions. Use what you have, and don't sweat what you don't. So long as you have potatoes (leftover baked), you've got something to work with for this soup. Here's what I put in this last batch:
- 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- oil for sautéeing the onion, about 2 tablespoons
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup of celery greens and center stalks, minced (optional, but good)
- 4 medium leftover baked potatoes, skins left on (this is enough to make about 6 servings of soup)
- stock (chicken, ham or vegetable), about 2-3 cups (I used the saved liquid from a few cans of vegetables)
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sour cream, plain yogurt, or plain Greek yogurt (I used a mix of sour cream and Greek yogurt)
- 1 cup of cooked ham dices or 1/2 cup of cooked bacon bits (I used leftover turkey slices in gravy, in this batch, diced small, 1 cup)
- 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- salt and black pepper
- water, to thin (about 3 to 4 cups, you can substitute 1 cup of milk, for 1 cup of the water, if desired)
- parsley, chives or green onions for garnish (can also use dried herbs, or cracked black pepper for garnish)
In a large stockpot sauté the onion and celery in oil, until soft.
Chop the baked potatoes into 1-inch cubes, skins left on. Add to the vegetables. Pour in the 2 to 3 cups of stock or reserved canned vegetable liquid. Bring to a boil.
Puree the potato, onion and liquid mixture, with an immersion blender (alternatively, you can run this through a blender or food processor). The texture of this soup is most interesting if you leave a few chunks of potatoes in the puree.
Stir in a large dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, the ham or bacon, and cheese. Add water to thin to a creamy, thick soup consistency. Salt and pepper to taste. Heat through. And serve, garnished with herbs, more cheddar and/or bacon bits.
A pot of this soup is enough for 6 hearty servings for my family, and costs about $1.50.
It makes use of things that might have been tossed out, like celery tops and the liquid from canned green beans. By having the baked potatoes leftover from another meal, there's no time spent waiting for potatoes to cook till soft in the soup.
** I leave the skins on the potatoes, for added nutrients, and to make this easier. The skins do leave some brown flecks throughout the soup. So, if your family would prefer not to see those flecks of potato skin, you could also scoop the insides out of the potato skins for this soup.