BAKED POTATO & LEEK SOUP with CHEDDAR and BACON
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
The whole potato, skin and all, goes into this thick soup, so wash the potatoes well.
Sharp cheese works well in this soup because it melts smoothly. Extra sharp will give you a more pronounced flavor but because of its lower moisture content, the soup will be less smooth.
Yields about 6 cups; serves 4
~ 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 pound each)
~ 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
~ 2 medium leeks (white and light green parts), sliced and rinsed well
~ 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
~ Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
~ 2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
~ 4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
~ 1/2 cup milk
~ 1/2 cup sour cream
~ 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar (about 1/4 pound)
~ 2 Tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens or chives
Heat the oven to 375ºF.
Scrub the potatoes, pat dry, and pierce several times with a fork. Set them directly on the oven rack and bake until very tender, about 1 hour.
Let cool completely on a cooling rack.
Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and 2 cups water.
Simmer until the leeks are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp.
Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
Cut one of cooled potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh out in one piece from each half.
Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.
Coarsely chop the potato skin and the entire remaining potato and add to the pot with the leeks.
Purée the contents of the pot in batches in a blender until very smooth.
Return the soup to a clean pot and reheat over medium low.
Whisk together the milk and sour cream and then whisk this into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the Cheddar.
Stir in the diced potato.
Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the remaining Cheddar, the bacon bits, and the scallions or chives.