Baked Potato and Bacon Soup

Winter has finally arrived in St. Louis. Yesterday we reached a balmy high of 56F, and Alex and I took our dog for a leisurely walk. Today, we’ve had a few inches of snow, and when I walked my dog, it was 17F and felt like -1.

I decided this winter weather made tonight perfect for soup. As always, I just happened to have some potatoes and bacon around, and thought that a hearty and thick bacon and potato soup was exactly what the change in weather demanded.

I’m a somewhat picky eater, and discounted all recipes involving any kind of cream cheese, shredded cheese, or sour cream in the broth. That essentially brought me to this Baked Potato and Bacon Soup recipe, which I’ve adapted below. I liked the simplicity of the ingredient list – potatoes, bacon, onion, garlic, milk, and chicken broth, with a few seasonings.

Baked Potato and Bacon Soup

Baked Potato and Bacon Soup

2 3/4 pounds baking potatoes
1/3 pound bacon
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 cups 2% milk (add more for a thinner soup)*
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
salt (maybe 1/2 teaspoon? I didn’t measure)
pepper to taste
toppings of your choice (cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions – whatever you’d put on your baked potato)

Scrub and pierce potatoes, and bake in a 400F oven for about an hour; they’re done once you can stick a fork in them without much resistance. Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise and slice.

Fry bacon in a large Dutch oven. Remove bacon and reserve for topping. Saute onion in bacon drippings for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and bay leaf and saute for a few minutes longer. Add chopped baked potatoes with skins, milk, chicken broth, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and mash potatoes with potato masher – mash a lot for thicker puree, and only a little for a thinner but chunkier soup. Top with reserved bacon and other toppings as desired. Yields 5-6 full bowls.

*Edit: I mistakenly wrote 3 cups instead of 3 1/2 cups of milk, which is how much I actually used.

This is exactly how I want a potato soup. It had just the right amount of onion in it. I enjoyed the texture and flavor of the potato skins. I mashed the potatoes enough that the soup really thickened up, becoming creamy, but the soup still had chunks of potato for texture. This soup had a good flavor without being overwhelming, and I get the feeling it would be versatile. (Steak-and-potato soup, anyone?)

This is a delicious, hearty, filling soup, perfect for a cold winter day. It was easy to make with just things I happened to have around the house. I’ll make this, and variations on it, again and again.

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