Due to the holidays Souper Bowl Sunday has been on a bit of a hiatus, but we’re back! Yesterday’s soup was a Baked Potato & Leek Soup with Cheddar & Bacon from Fine Cooking. I’ve been on a Fine Cooking kick and when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. I love how it uses the whole potato – both the baked potato skins and the actual potato. It was rainy here in Philly yesterday so this was the perfect comfort food. As usual, I made a few changes as I went and I’ll post them below the recipe.
- 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 lb. each)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2-1/2 cups sliced leeks
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar (about 1/4 lb.)
- 2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallion greens or chives
Heat the oven to 375ºF. Scrub the potatoes in water, pat dry, and pierce in several places with a fork. Set them directly on an oven rack and bake until very tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the leeks are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the bacon in a skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon bits with a slotted spoon to a saucer lined with paper towels to drain and cool.
When the potatoes are cool, cut one of them in half lengthwise. Use a large spoon to scoop the flesh in one piece from each half. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. Coarsely chop the potato skin and the entire remaining potato and add to the pot with the leeks. Purée the contents of the pot in a blender until very smooth (you’ll need to work in two batches). Return the puréed soup to a clean soup pot and reheat over medium low. Whisk together the milk and sour cream until smooth and then whisk this into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the Cheddar. Stir in the diced potato. The soup should be fairly thick, but if it seems too thick, thin it with a little water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the remaining Cheddar, the bacon bits, and the scallions or chives.
- The recipe calls for about 1 lb of potatoes, but I used 2 lbs. You can never go wrong with extra potatoes, can you? And before I put the baked potatoes in the oven I rubbed them with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper.
- I used 3 Tablespoons of butter + 1 Tablespoon of the bacon fat. I figured that would give the soup a little extra flavor.
- I only had 1 leek on hand, so that’s all I used. Next time I will try using two leeks to see how that turns out.
- Instead of 1/2 cup of milk, I used about 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of half & half. The reason for this change was that I had those leftover from a Potato Gratin dish that I made (that will be featured another day) and I wanted to use it up before it expired.
- I don’t think I ever use the right amount when we’re talking about bacon. I made extra bacon and I ended up throwing half of it in the soup, and used the rest as a garnish. Bacon makes everything better!
- I also used a little extra cheese because I love it so.
THE VERDICT: We loved it! This was a very flavorful soup and this recipe is definitely a keeper. I’ve never really cooked with leeks before, so this was my first time. I definitely enjoyed it. I won’t shy away from anymore recipes that call for leeks in the future. We’re a huge fan of baked potato soups here so this was a delicious take on it. I loved the flavor that the baked potato skins gave the soup (as well as the look of the soup).