This potato soup recipe is a lot like a couple of the deluxe salad recipes that I’ve previously posted (see Sesame Mandarin Salad or Thai Chopped Salad) – it’s something that you’d expect to see at a family chain restaurant, but so much better because it has none of the chemicals and preservatives. Just good ole homemade soup with a bevy of delicious accompaniments all to your liking. If you love your comfort food without prepackaging, dyes and additives, then this recipe is for you!
The richness of this soup comes from a made-from-scratch, slow-simmered stock that utilizes a leftover ham bone and some savory veggies. It’s a simple stock to make and is a wonderful use of that bone that folks so often chuck. What a waste! The depth of flavor is excellent, and the stock itself can be used in all sorts of recipes – pots of beans, split peas, and cajun dishes like gumbo are all vastly improved with the use of this stock. Because ham tends to be a bit salty, I recommend that you check the stock for salt after it’s simmered down.
Making the stock is truly the most time-consuming part of this recipe, but nothing is labor intensive at all. You basically let the stock boil away and go about your business. Same with the potatoes – they cook on their own until velvety, requiring no additional assistance from you. Good stuff! The hardest thing you’ll have to do is decide how chunky or smooth you want it all to be – soooooooo hard, I know. Speaking of smooth, for a high-brow version of this recipe, try out this Truffled Potato Soup. Same process, only you’ll feel like you are riding in the car with the dude who requests Grey Poupon. Bentleys and truffles for everyone!
The soup gets its name from the fact that once it’s finished, you get to embellish it just as you would a baked potato. Bacon or ham, cheeses of all kinds, scallions and chives, even a dollop of sour cream – all make delicious toppings. Choose what suits you and tuck in to a hearty bowl of deliciousity. Yup, deliciousity.
Loaded Baked Potato Soup
1 ham bone
2 stalks of celery
1 onion chopped
2 bay leaves
12 c. of water
4 tbs. of butter
3 tbs. of flour
7 c. of stock (from recipe above)
3 lbs. of russet potatoes
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. of white pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 c. of cream
1 c. of sharp cheddar
1 tbs. of caraway seeds
1/4 of cheese for sprinkling
sliced scallions (optional)
crumbled bacon or chunks of ham (optional)
dollop of sour cream (optional)
Begin by adding your ham bone, stalks of celery (tops and all), chopped onion, bay leaves and water to a large pot. Bring to a rolling boil and then lower heat to medium-high. Allow to cook away until the ham has completely fallen off the bone and the stock has reduced to about 7 cups of liquid – about 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Strain stock and discard all of the solids. Taste for salt and pepper and season accordingly. Set stock aside.
In a large pot, melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook roux for about a minute. Slowly whisk in strained stock so as to prevent lumps. Bring pot of liquid to a simmer.
While stock is simmering away, peel your potatoes and chop into cubes. Add your potatoes to the stock and bring it to a rolling boil. Add the white pepper and nutmeg. Cook until potatoes are incredibly tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. For a chunky soup, mash the potatoes with a potato masher. For a smooth soup, puree with a hand mixer or in a blender. If you use the blender, make sure to do so in batches and always put a kitchen towel over the lid. This’ll keep you from splattering hot soup all over yourself, which is never ever a good thing.
If you’ve blended your soup, return it to the pot. Stir in the cream, sharp cheddar and caraway seeds. Once cheese has melted into the soup, taste for salt and pepper one last time. Serve with your toppings of choice.
For those looking to save time, use premade chicken stock and start cooking at the point where you make a roux from the butter and flour. Just make sure to warm your stock in a separate pot before adding to the roux. For vegetarians, leave out the ham stock and replace with vegetable stock (homemade or store-bought), making sure to follow the same process as for the chicken broth just mentioned.