Loaded Potato Soup

March 14, 2018

I am excited for spring just about on every level, but there is one thing about the cold weather that I don’t mind holding on to and dragging into spring with us: comfort food.

Soup tops the list of comfort food for me, followed closely by anything with potatoes, so really this Loaded Baked Potato Soup is a match made in heaven. We are Irish so its basically in our blood to like this. If you’re looking to jazz up your St. Patrick’s Day menu, this one’s a winner.

The first time I had it was at a book club where they read my book! I got to be a guest author. It was amazing to hear smart, lovely women talking about Anna and Andrew and Maine.  I was reminded again that everyone brings so much of their inner life to a book. I’ve recently heard several people describe reading a good book as a form of self care, and I totally agree. I always feel a bit unglued if I’m not reading a good book. I was so honored that these ladies had me, and I look forward to doing more in the future. Connecting with readers is so much fun.

This did not keep me from asking for the recipe for this soup, of course, because a good recipe should always be shared.  When my friend sent it to me I was even more intrigued by the title – it was a version of Panera Bread’s Loaded Potato Soup. A while back a posted a version of Panera Bread’s Greek Salad Dressing and it was SO good, I made it in big batches ahead with the dry ingredients in ball jars in my pantry so I could add the oil and vinegar on the fly when I needed more. I was so excited to have another one of their recipes at my fingertips.

I made a double batch of this right before our third (or was it fourth?) snow day and it was so lovely to eat the next day while we played and baby swapped. My kids could doctor it up just how they would a baked potato and everyone was happy, especially my husband who loves bacon and my daughter who loves mashed potatoes.

Can we also get an Amen for how cheap this soup is to make? You can feed lots of people for less money then a pizza delivered.

Soon, spring will have me eating all the asparagus and fiddle head ferns and pea pasta dishes but for now, a bowl of this soup and a good book is calling me. Especially since we are supposed to have more snow on Monday.

Think I may have to have a glass of wine with those.

Panera Bread CopyCat Loaded Baked Potato Soup (printer version here):

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 cup cooked bacon bits or crumbs
  • 4 large Yukon potatoes scrubbed peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 4-6 cups low sodium chicken broth or more
  • 2 tablespoons butter unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 4 ounces cream cheese or sour cream room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Garnish:

  • 2 teaspoons chives
  • 2 tablespoons of real bacon bits
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:

  1. Add olive oil to a hot medium pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, for about 1 minute, stirring all the time.
  4. Add potatoes, bacon bits, dried oregano and dried parsley, stir to combine.
  5. Add chicken broth, enough to fully cover the potatoes. Cook on medium heat for about 12 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
  6. Once the potatoes have cooked, add butter to a medium saucepan over medium heat and melt. Whisk in the flour until completely combined and gradually add in the heavy cream. Whisk the flour mixture until smooth. With the heat on the lowest stove setting, let the mixture cook until it starts to simmer and is getting thicker, stir occasionally.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the potatoes and gently stir to combine.
  8. Using a potato masher, mash half of the potatoes or as mush as you want. You can also add the soup to a blender or use an immersion blender.
  9. Add the cream cheese or sour cream, and stir until it melted.
  10. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken broth.
  11. Season with salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust.
  12. Garnish with chives, bacon bits and cheddar cheese.
  13. Serve and enjoy!

This was originally posted on the Sweet and Savory blog here.

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