It’s cold and raining today…perfect for a hot, comforting bowl of cream of potato soup. I must confess that this recipe is always changing. I’ve tried for many years to perfect it, and I have found myself constantly tweaking the ingredients or preparation. But no matter how I make it, we never seem to have a problem making this soup disappear. This takes some time to prepare, but it’s time well spent. Because I have played around with this recipe so much, I’ve kept track of a number of variations that have also worked well, which I have listed below.
[Updated January 15, 2008]
- 10 to 12 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, baked in the microwave
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 scallions, sliced thin (The white part will go into the soup, and the green part will be garnish.)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, fine sifted such as Wondra or Pillsbury’s Shake and Blend
- 6 cups whole milk
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 or 5 grinds fresh black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 cup real bacon bits (about 3 or 4 pieces of cooked bacon)
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (use a brick of cheese and shred it)
- 8 ounces sour cream
- scallions, green parts
- shredded cheddar cheese
- bacon bits
- Scoop the flesh of the potatoes into a bowl and set aside. Discard the skins.
- Melt butter in the pot and saute the white part of the onions and garlic for about 1 minute. Add flour and whisk constantly until the flour and butter mixture thickens and forms a light roux. The roux should have a slightly nutty taste, with no hint of flour. Watch carefully and do not over cook the roux.
- Gradually whisk in the milk a cup at a time. Cook over medium-low until thickened and hot. Raise the heat as necessary, but watch it closely to make sure the milk doesn’t boil.
- Add the potatoes, using a potato masher or stick blender to mash the large chunks. Stir to distribute the potatoes throughout the soup. Add the salt, black pepper, and paprika and stir.
- Add 1/2 cup bacon bits, the sour cream, and the cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and thoroughly incorporated into the soup. Cook over medium-low until hot.
- Pour into bowls and garnish with bacon bits, scallions, and shredded cheese.
6 to 8 quart pot
potato masher or stick blender
You can use strips of bacon instead of bacon bits. Omit the butter. Cut up 3 or 4 strips of bacon into small pieces and fry in the pot. Then add the onions and garlic and continue as above.
You can use ham instead of bacon. I’ve used the breakfast style that you can buy in single slices. Trim the fatty bits and cut into small pieces. Cook the ham in the butter, then add the onions and garlic.
If you want a richer soup, substitute 1 to 2 cups of half-and-half or heavy cream for equal amounts of the milk.
You can use evaporated skim milk, which will render a slightly thinner soup. I’ve added extra potatoes to help thicken it.