Winter weather means soup. For my family, soup usually means something extremely hearty that sticks to your ribs and will keep you warm through a cold night on the Great Plains. (which, if you’ve never experienced it, can be very cold indeed!) For me the king of all rich and hearty soups is potato soup and this is my take on it.
This soup is hearty and filling. It’s incredibly thick, sumptuous, rich and warming. It’s slightly thicker than most potato soups and the bacon adds a certain richness to the earthy flavor of the potatoes that I don’t think ham quite accomplishes, though it’s the more traditional addition to this dish.
A warning, though. If you’re looking for something light, this ain’t it. There’s enough cream and butter in this recipe to make staunch dieters cower in fear, and your cholesterol levels may never be the same again. Having said this, I only recommend this dish as an occasional treat. One to be savored when the weather is chill and the nights are long. It’s not every day fare, it’s comfort food at the highest level, with the calorie count to match.
This recipe makes enough to serve about eight people, but don’t worry about scaling back if you’re only serving one or two. It freezes extremely well and can be kept sealed in the chill chest for three to six months in airtight containers. That way it’s just waiting for you the next time the weather gets seriously chilly and you’re in need of a wintertime booster shot of soothing warmth.
- 1/2 lb (1/2 package) thick cut pepper bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped
- 2 - 3 tbsp. Bacon drippings
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 lbs. russet or red potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes
- 32 oz. chicken stock (approximate)
- 1/2 pint heavy cream
- 1/8 lb (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook bacon using preferred method until crisp. (I bake thick cut bacon on a cooling rack over a sheet pan so that it remains flat). Allow to cool and chop or crumble into small pieces. Reserve several tablespoons of drippings. (add more bacon drippings if onions look dry. This will depend on the size of your pot and particular onion.)
Place a large soup pot or heavy casserole over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp. bacon drippings and cook onions, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring often.
Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for a few minutes. When everything is sizzling nicely, add enough stock to just cover potatoes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.
Mash potatoes roughly with a potato masher. Scoop out about half of the remaining mixture and puree in a blender (in batches!) or food processor. (Or if you've got an immersion blender, go for it with that.) Make sure to leave a good bit of the potatoes chunky, for texture.
Add butter and heavy cream. Stir to combine well. Taste for seasoning and add more stock if soup is too thick for your liking. When the consistency is right for you, stir in bacon and bring to just a bare simmer, stirring often.
Serve hot. Garnish with additional crumbled bacon and some chives or green onions.
Share and Enjoy!
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
I wish I’d had some fresh parsley on hand for a garnish. Lacking that, the onions and bacon did just fine.
Expect to see a few variations on this recipe over the winter. It’s really my basic potato soup recipe. There are many more ways to mix this one up for something completely unique!
Links to other recipes like this: