Monday, December 13, 2010

Cheesy Potato Soup

I've been on a bit of a soup kick as of late. The colder it gets, the more appealing a big, hot bowl of soup sounds. I have had this recipe marked to try for almost a year now, but life got in the way, then the weather warmed up. I'm glad it finally got chilly enough for me to give in and make this a priority.

The first thing I noticed about this soup is that it has no processed cheese in it. Don't get me wrong; there is a time and place for Velveeta. But I try not to eat it unless it's in a cheese dip and there are chips. A bit of a double standard, maybe, but I'm complicated like that. So the fact that the cheese is all cheddar was an instant win for this soup as far as I was concerned.

The recipe also gives a 40 minute total cook time, which it pretty much delivered on. I started dinner at 4:45 and the soup was ready at 5:30. Another win.

How did it taste, you may wonder? In a word: delicious. Want to make it for yourself? Here's how: (full recipe below)

Peel 4-5 medium carrots.
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in your medium to large stockpot. If this looks like a big tablespoon to you, you would be right. I did not read all the way through the recipe (hanging head in shame) and put almost all the butter the recipe calls for instead of just the 1 Tbsp. I was supposed to use. Oi vey. It still worked out just fine as I scaled back a Tbsp. in the roux later, but I could have gone without the extra fat/calories.

Dice 1 c. of the peeled carrots. Toss them into the melted butter and saute until softened.

Peel and cube about 4 medium russet potatoes, or enough to get to 5 cups.

Add 4 c. chicken broth, the potatoes, basil, salt and pepper to the pot. Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat. In the meantime, start working on the cheese sauce.

Make a roux by adding 1/4 c. flour to 3 Tbsp. of melted butter. Cook for about 1 minute. Then slowly whisk in 1 1/2 c. milk and cooked until slightly thickened. 

Shred up about 2 c. of delicious sharp cheddar cheese.

Add the cheese to the butter/flour/milk mixture. Stir until the cheese is melted and thoroughly combined.

I could throw this on a big bowl of broccoli and be perfectly content.

Check potatoes. If they are tender, add the cheese sauce and stir until thoroughly blended.

It's almost soup.

The recipe doesn't call for it, but I feel no potato soup is complete without some chopped green onions and some crispy bacon. I didn't have any bacon, but I did have some left over prosciutto that I cooked till crispy. It was a wonderfully perfect for this chilly night.  
Cheesy Potato Soup
Serves 4-5
  • 4 Tbsp. butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 c. diced carrots (1/4-inch dice)
  • 4 c. chicken broth (1 32-ounce carton)
  • 5 c. peeled and cubed russet potatoes (about 4 medium; 1/2-inch cube)
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c. milk (lowfat or whole)
  • 8 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (2 c.)
Make the soup: Melt 1 Tbsp. of the butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and saute until softened - 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broth, potatoes, basil, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil; lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender - about 20 minutes.

Make the cheese sauce: Meanwhile, melt the remaining 3 Tbsp. butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened - 2 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted and thoroughly combined. Gradually pour the sauce into the soup and stir until thoroughly blended. Serve.

Suggested toppings: green onions, crispy bacon or prosciutto.

Source: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen