Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Quick and easy, hearty soup: Fully Loaded Baked Potato Soup

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.

15 comments:

  1. I love potato soup and this sound delicious. I think it's time to get out the immersion blender a rarely use.

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      I wasn't sure if I'd use an immersion bender enough to make it worthwhile. But it turns out that I use it several times per week. I blend up juices and smoothies for myself with it. This fall I've been blending leftover cranberry sauce with orange juice -- pretty refreshing.
      The soup is really good and hearty.
      Have a great day, live and learn!

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  2. Your method definitely sounds quicker than mine! Assuming one has the leftover baked potatoes ready. Our soup is very similar but I learned from my boss at a job 15+ years ago to simmer the diced potato and onion in chicken broth till tender, then I use the immersion blender to blend up some of the potato, but not all. Then I add a generous splash of cream or whole milk, bring back up to temp, and serve in bowls with shredded cheese and bacon bits as each person wishes. My middle school daughter fixed us a nice pot of this Friday while we were at the surgery center with my son in the morning. We came home to a delicious hot lunch and enjoyed it greatly.

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    1. Hi Cat,
      Leftover baked potatoes is what make this so quick to make. I usually bake an extra 5 or 7 potatoes when I'm serving baked potatoes with dinner. But I have to act quickly, to make this soup, as the baked potatoes get used up in lunches so fast.

      Cream is good added to potato soup. I usually skip it, because I limit dairy for myself, but it does improve the soup if some of the water is milk or cream.

      How is your son's foot doing? I hope the healing is going as planned.

      Have a wonderful day, Cat!

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  3. Yum, Lili! We do a version of this, but do not bland it. We like our soup lumpy. :)

    I have also done this from all canned and dried ingredients, and also had delicious results. It takes longer to cook from dried potato dices, and it's not as frugal; but in an emergency, it's nice to pull together something so satisfying. Sara

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    1. Sorry, "blend", not "bland". (And ours isn't bland, I like a sprinkle of cracked pepper in it. :))) Sara

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    2. Hi Sara,
      Sometimes I like my soup lumpy, too! That's how I have always like mashed potatoes, with plenty of lumps. Soup sounds like a good use for your emergency supplies.

      Do you ever use a pressure cooker for cooking dried vegetables/meat? I have never used a PC, but was thinking that could speed up the rehydration. I don't know, obviously.

      I hope your day is off to a lovely start, Sara!

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    3. Lili, I've not used a pressure cooker for anything (though I did finally get one!), so I can't answer this either. But we've heard that it speeds up beans (which take forever at our elevation), so I'd think that it ought to speed up dried veggies.

      If I know I'll be using them ahead, I pre-hydrate dried veggies in some boiling water for an hour or so, which speeds things up. I think I told you, we used dried celery for our Thanksgiving dinner's stuffing. I poured boiling water over that at breakfast, and left it until time to prepare the stuffing. Worked out fine.

      I do the same with dried onion if I want to make tartar sauce and don't have any fresh onion. Just pour boiling water over for a half-hour or so, and it's good to go. Doesn't have the same texture as fresh that way, but makes up for it with the sort of 'roasted' onion taste you get from it.

      Take good care! Sara

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    4. Sara, that's good to know, about pouring boiling water over the veggies. I sometimes use dried onion flakes. I'll keep that in mind.

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  4. Ooh, yum. I have a crockpot potato soup that we love--hearty and inexpensive! The creaminess of yours sounds delicious.

    My hubby does your trick of pre-baking potatoes to make tasty fried potatoes. We go through a LOT of taters at this time of year!

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    1. Hi Kris,
      We go through a lot of potatoes this time of year, too! In part because the ones I stocked up on begin sprouting in December, so we try to use as many as we can each week. Fried baked potato slices, yum, all crispy and golden. I think they taste better than French fries.

      Your crockpot soup sounds very no-fuss. It must be wonderful to come home to at the end of a cold and snowy day!

      Have a great day, Kris!

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  5. Oh yum I forgot about potatoe soup. I have never made it from left over potatoes but I love the idea. If we ever have any left over. Potatoes are gobbled up around here faster than I can blink my eye. I think I am going to give this a try. I think I will need to hide the extra baked potatoes. I put chicken broth,onions,celery,carrots or what ever is lurking in the frig. I made it one time for Bible Study at my house and one woman said it looks like wallpaper paste.
    I agreed with her and said hold judgement until you taste it. It made me laugh because then she wanted the recipe. People are so funny. I hope your December has been wonderful. I still need to bake a few things and
    and wrap a few things. I found 22 pairs of socks over the weekend that I bought after Christmas last year for pennies a pair. I think these will be Merry Christmas
    to Patti and Kristi as lots of ours have holes. I am not very talented at darning socks.:)They are fine for wearing around the house or or in slippers but I am like the Princess and the pea with my socks.
    Blessings,
    Patti

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    1. Hi Patti,
      It does look rather unappealing, at first glance. I like the garnish of something green to hide it's bland look.

      I still have a lot to do, too. Good luck to you with all of your plans and preparations~ Great find on the socks bought on clearance. I'll be keeping my eyes open for some after Christmas, this year. I'm the same way with socks. My feet are picky and socks have to be just right. If there's a wrinkly in the sock, under my foot, it feels like my foot is bruised. Go figure. I've been known to take Advil for sock-related foot issues.

      Have a lovely day, Patti!

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  6. Perfect timing for this info Lili. I had planned on baked potatoes as part of tonight's dinner, and will bake more than "just enough". And I have cream to use up too. I've never had this soup but have heard about it, so now is the time to finally make and taste it. And with our very, very, very cold weather soup is a great dinner. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Jayne,
      We had a light dusting of snow this morning. I was out in the evening, last night and it was bitter cold (for me, bitter means about 30 F, ha ha). I can't imagine temperatures like what you have. Enjoy the soup! I think you'll love it. Very hearty and warming!

      Have a wonderful day, Jayne!

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