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Potato Cheese Soup

November 10, 2011

Winter has arrived!  Well, in socal terms that means at least one or two days a week it’s 65 or below as a high!  For me, that’s good enough to start making soup.  I live in “the valley” which means it’s generally hotter at my location than most in the LA area.  And, when it’s 85-95 most days that means there is no way I’m slaving over a hot stove for any amount of time.

Last year I found this great recipe http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cheese-and-Potato-Soup-998  And, if you know me I couldn’t just follow the recipe but it’s a great base for what I’ve been making.  And, I’ve served it to many people who have also fallen in love.

Ingredients:

4-6 slices of thick cut apple wood smoked bacon (preferably nitrate / nitrite free)

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

3 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves removed from sprigs) or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups milk

2 large russet potatoes, peeled, diced

1 cup packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and Pepper

Directions:

In your best soup pot (I used an enameled le creuset cast iron pot) add the bacon and cook at medium-high (or medium depending on the pot) until crispy and the fat has rendered out.  If you want, you can dice the bacon before you add to the pan, cut  in half, or cook as a full slice and crumble later.  I leave this particular style up to you.

Remove bacon once it’s cooked to crispy and leave 2 tbsp of bacon fat in the pot for the next step.  If you have too much carefully remove by the spoonful until you have the right amount.  If you have too little add in a bit of olive oil.

Pancetta cooked

Pancetta cooked - subbed for bacon

Combine the thyme, carrots, celery, and onion in the pan and saute for 5 mins, or until softened.  I like to also sprinkle mine with salt and pepper.

Carrots, celery, onion and thyme!

Carrots, celery, onion and thyme!

When the veg is softened add in the three tablespoons of flour and cook – stirring a good 4-6 times during the next 2 mins.

Whisk in the chicken broth – getting all of the bits up off the bottom of the pot from everything you previously cooked.  Then, whisk in the milk.  Add in the potato to your soup and bring back up to a boil.  Once the soup has come to a boil bring the heat down to medium or medium low keeping the soup at a simmer for about 20 mins.  You will need to be careful during the next 20 mins making sure the soup isn’t sticking to the bottom of your pot.  I just whisk the soup every 4 mins or so during the 20 min period.  Before you take off the heat taste a potato carefully to make sure that it’s soft and cooked.  Once it is, turn off the heat.

Add your cheese about 1/2 cup at a time mixing in well and letting each addition melt into the soup.  At this point I also taste for any salt that I need to add and we like our soup a bit spicy so I add a ton of freshly ground black pepper.  Crumble up your bacon and add it back into the soup, serve up and eat! YUM – like most soup this one is even better the next day.

Ready to eat!

Potato Cheese Soup - Ready to eat!

Pro Tips:

If you shop at Trader Joe’s you can buy the following items that make your soup making even more quick.

1. Mirepoix – measure out 1/2 cup of the oinion, celery, and carrot and then give a bit of a finer chop.

2. Instead of bacon buy their little box of pancetta.  This is already diced and still has a great bacon/ham taste.

 

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