I'm happy to report that my baked potato soup experiment seems to be a success! I ended up abandoning the crock pot idea....figured that once the prepwork was done, it would be pretty quick to throw together on the stove. So I ended up more or less combining the Alton Brown and Cooking Light recipes. And since I liked it, I wanted to get the new recipe down before I forget!
Baked Potato Soup
4 baked potatoes
7 slices bacon
2 leeks, thinly sliced
2 tsp minced garlic (though I used the stuff in a jar, and didn't level it, so it was probably closer to 2 1/2, or about 5 cloves)
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
4 c chicken stock
3 1/2 c fat free milk (I like the organic stuff, because it's sooooo much thicker and creamier and yummier than the conventional!)
8 oz light sour cream
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese
Fresh chives for garnish
1. Take the baked potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, scoop them out, and put the innards through a ricer. (I baked them yesterday and cooled them in the fridge overnight--the nice thing was this made the skins peel away from the potatoes somewhat, so it really maximized the useable part of the potatoes. I do wonder if the potatoes being cold made it harder to put through the ricer, though! That was hard!)
2. Cook the bacon in a cookpot big enough to hold the soup over medium heat. Remove the bacon and set aside.
3. Cook the leeks and garlic in the bacon drippings until translucent. Add the salt and pepper and toss it around a bit more.
4. Add the chicken broth, then the riced potatoes, milk, and sour cream, and mix them up well. (I used an immersion blender because I wanted a really smooth soup. The immersion blender is FUN. Yes, I'm a dork.)
5. Add the cheese and mix it in, then crumble up the bacon and add that; let the soup heat through. Garnish with chives.
A couple of notes, and to give credit where it's due...
- From the Alton Brown recipe: the idea of using leeks instead of onions. (I don't like onions--they're too strong-tasting to me. That seems to run in my family, because I also have several relatives who don't like onions, including my mom, my brother, and at least one uncle.) The major contribution of putting the potatoes through the ricer, which helped a lot in getting that creamy texture I wanted. Also the additions of the sour cream and using chicken stock instead of broth--even though I used a carton of stock from the grocery store, I figured that would give more depth to the flavor than just plain broth.
- Other than the ricer, I took most of the preparation steps from the Cooking Light recipe--cooking the leeks and garlic in the bacon drippings, adding the stock and milk directly to the pan (Alton suggested heating up the stock separately first and then whisking the potatoes and dairy together separately, but that would make extra dirty dishes and I didn't want that.) Cheddar instead of parmesan. The proportions of chicken stock to dairy were more in-line with this recipe, though I didn't exactly follow the ingredients here either. (Alton called for buttermilk, and CL for 1% milk, but I didn't feel like drinking the leftovers and figured the fat-free would make up a bit for the bacon grease.) Also, the bacon--the lack of was the major shortcoming in the AB recipe.
- The AB recipe called for 2 1/2 tsp of salt, and the CL for just 1 tsp. I didn't think one would be enough, but I originally tried just two. When tasting it later, it seemed like it needed more, so I went ahead and added the other 1/2 tsp.
- My own twists: using the immersion blender to make the soup smoother, and adding the bacon to the actual soup rather than just as a garnish. The reasons for this were that I wanted the bacon flavor to infuse the soup more (I feel so Iron Chef saying that), and the more practical reason of the leftovers would just have the bacon sitting in the soup anyway.
Now test #3....let's see how it freezes.