Monday, March 10, 2008

Baked Potato Soup

I love potatoes. I love 'em baked, fried and mashed, double stuffed and twice baked...whipped, french fried, boiled, chilled and gooped up with mayo and called salad. My grandpa on my moms side was a potato farmer, he was a wonderful grandpa. He was sweet and funny , an incredibly bright man who loved working the soil, he had a beautiful garden. I think that part of the reason why I love potatoes so much is because I was so very fond of my grandpa. He was a really good cook, his fried chicken was the stuff memories are made of and his soups are fondly talked about by all of his grand kids to this day. He was also a lover of literature and classical music. I've been known to play classical music out in the garden...because that's what my grandpa did. Grandpa has been gone almost thirty years but I still think of him often.

I've always wanted to make really good soups from scratch like grandpa did, no assistance from Campbell's ...thank you very much...that's not how grandpa did it.

I got this recipe for baked potato soup from my mother-in-law. I've tweaked it and toyed with it, I think I've finally got it to the point where I would be proud to serve it to my grandpa if he was still here. BAKED POTATO SOUP

4 large baked potatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2/3 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
12 slices maple smoked bacon, chopped and fried
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
6 cups milk
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz. sour cream

Wrap the scrubbed potatoes in foil and bake @ 400 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the potatoes. Sometimes I bake the potatoes ahead of time so that they've cooled a bit and are easy to chop up when it's time to make the soup.

In a large heavy bottom sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, add chopped onions and celery, saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes or 'til translucent. I use my 8 quart Belgique pan when I make this soup... I was a dummy and forgot the saute the onions before I fried the bacon so I had to use another pan. Whoopsieee.

Transfer the sauteed onions and celery to a bowl and set aside. Saute the chopped bacon until thoroughly cooked. With a slotted spoon, remove the cooked bacon from the pan to a paper towel to drain off excess grease, you don't want a whole lotta bacon grease in your soup. My bacon was really fatty...yuk...I don't want that in my soup. Pour the bacon grease out of the pan but don't clean out the pan. You want to keep those teensy bits of bacon flavor that are stuck to the bottom of that pan.

I love to measure out my spices ahead of time so that they're ready to go into my soups. I call this "spice art", I have a whole collection of little glass's kinda pretty doncha think? Clockwise from top right. Celery salt, dill, dry mustard, salt and white pepper in the center.

Sorry, I got distracted...herbs and spices do that to me.

Melt 2/3 cup butter in the same pan that you fried the bacon in, minus the bacon grease. Scrape up the little bits of bacon that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.

When the butter is melted add 3/4 cup flour and stir like crazy with a wire whisk...stir and stir, for about five minutes over medium heat. If you think it's getting too hot knock the heat down a little bit, but you want it to bubble...just think of it as firming exercise for your forearm. Trust me, this makes or breaks a good soup, if you cheat this step you run the risk of your soup tasting like you really wanna do that? I did that once, okay...more than once. A very dear friend explained the error of my ways. To those of you who know all about how to do this the right way, I'm very sorry if you're bored. My mom is a really good cook but she never taught me how to do this the right way, neither did my home ec teacher. I had to learn it the hard way, with a couple of batches of really gross soups....I felt like such a looooserrrrr.
Now it's time to add the milk. Add it in a slow stream about a cup at a time, whisking like crazy as you add it, the first couple of cups it will look like glue, don't freak out...just keep whisking and adding. The reason for adding the milk slowly is so that you get a nice creamy soup...who the heck wants a lumpy gumpy soup anyway?

Now you've got a beautiful creamy base for your soup, whisk in the salt, celery salt, dry mustard, white pepper and dill. Keep the pan on low heat, be sure not to scorch the soup. Add the sauteed onion and celery mixture, the fried bacon. Chop up the cooled baked potatoes into 1/2 in chunks and add to the soup. Shortly before serving add the grated cheddar and sour cream, mix thoroughly until the cheese melts.

Serve with a little extra cheese grated on top and a few chopped green onions if desired.

Yummmmm. I really think my grandpa would have liked this soup.


Jerrie said...

Yum. Baked Potato Soup is one of our favorites - I make it, but never completely from scratch! I will have to try this for my guys! :) I am sure your grandpa would love it - he would be so proud of you!

tami said...

If you had called, we would have come. That looks good!

bobbie said...

It sounds yummy! He'd be very proud of you.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Hmmmmm~ mustard?
I bet that is good. I'll give it a try!

pink dogwood said...

I have never tried it - would have to try it. I love the picture of spices you took. Have you read the book 'girl with a pearl earring'? In the beginning of the book this girl was chopping vegetables and arranging them according to the color. Vermeer observed that and thought this girl has a great artistic view of things. He would probably think the same of your spices arrangement :)

Anyways, soup looks good.

Lisa said...

I bet he would have loved it too. Soup is one of my favorites to make. no recipes though. just ideas thrown together and most of the time, it turns out great. when it doesn't, it's a funny family joke, food for the kitties, and then an even funnier family joke when the kitties won't eat it. :) those kitties can be picky i tell ya!

You make me want to go start a pot of potato soup...

Shelly said...

Jerrie - Tell me when you make it!
Tam - Aw...and the guys could have met the little girl!
Bobbie - Thanks, I miss him.
Sandi - it just a tiny bit of tang.
Pink - Loved "The Girl With the Pearl Earring"...I had forgotten that part though, thanks for reminding me. Hmm...I'm Dutch, maybe that's the connection.
Lisa - I used to make soup like that, then I decided to get serious...I wanted to be a "soup lady" Grandpa didn't use recipes, maybeee somedayyyy.