Cold weather is soup weather! And who doesn’t love cheesy potato soup?!
The temp has started to drop in Middle Tennessee as we are in transition from autumn to winter. After a fall season of severe drought here, we have finally started to get some rain, which means some freezing weather is surely on the way.
The first night I made this soup for the season, it was a very nasty evening of weather. We had downpours and winds of 40-50 mph beating on our home. We could feel the wind blowing through the cracks in the back door, reminding me that it’s beyond time to replace the weather stripping. It was the perfect night for comfort food and staying inside, followed by snuggles on the couch with the Christmas tree lit and books in our lap. I make this soup every year and never follow a written recipe (it’s all in my brain!), but after sharing a picture of it on Instagram and Facebook, I’ve had people contacting me asking for it, so I figured I’d finally get it out of my skull and onto paper (err–cyber paper) for you all to enjoy. At the end, you’ll find some modification notes and suggestions that might be helpful.
And now, onto the recipe!
Cheesy Potato Soup
Servings: 6-8 (depends if you serve this as a side with some salad or a big fat bowl)
If a loaded baked potato and macaroni and cheese had a baby, it’d be this soup. It’s thick. It’s creamy. It’s so not healthy. Just being real. But that’s okay, sometimes you just need a big bowl of comfort on a blustery cold day.
- 1/2 lb of bacon (or, you know, the whole thing if you’re bacon-aholics)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 6 red potatoes, washed and diced (skins on!)
- 5 c. chicken stock
- 2 c. milk (2% or whole)
- 8 oz. block cheddar cheese, hand shredded
- 7 oz. wheel smoke gouda, hand shredded
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Sea salt and cracked pepper
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. dill weed
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- In a large soup pot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook the bacon over medium heat until it’s crispy. When it’s done, set aside and crumble for your garnish. Save for later!
- Use the leftover bacon grease to saute the diced onion until it’s soft and opaque.
- Add the diced potatoes and saute a bit, soaking up the bacon grease. Don’t let the potatoes stick!
- Add the chicken stock and make sure potatoes are covered. If your potatoes were bigger than average, you may need to add some extra stock at this point to fully submerge them. You likely bought 2 boxes of stock to get the 5 c. needed for this recipe, so you should have a few cups left for wiggle room.
- Turn the burner up to high or medium high, and boil the potatoes and onions for 15 minutes until soft.
- While the potatoes are boiling, make the roux: mix the melter butter with the flour until it’s thick and creamy, and set aside.
- During the last 5 minutes of boiling, turn the burner back down to medium and add the milk. You want everything to gently simmer at this point.
- Slowly stir in the roux and allow the soup to continue to gently simmer. I usually add half the roux, mix it in really well, then add the second half. You’ll notice it start to get thick! Yay!
- Take the shredded cheeses and mix them together in a bowl so you have a nice even blend. Yes, this is a lot of cheese! But you won’t use it all at once…
- Now the fun part: Slowly mix the cheeses into the soup, one handful at a time. I normally leave a few cups untouched for garnishing our soup bowls, so eyeball how much you want to keep for that. Taste as you go until it’s cheesy enough for you. This is truly your preference. You really won’t need all the cheese mixed in… but to each her own!
- Season your soup to taste. Keep tasting it until your taste buds sing!
Serve up the soup topped with shredded cheese and crumbled bacon, and a side of crusty bread for dipping. You can also add a dollop of sour cream and some chives if you’d really like to go all out in baked potato bliss. I don’t do that though… this is good enough on its own!
- I cheat and use the Vidalia Chop Wizard (aff. link) for this recipe. It makes uniform pieces and cuts my chopping time down tremendously. I use the largest of the two plates. Sometimes you can find the Aldi version of the chop wizard for about $5 cheaper than the brand name sold on Amazon, but the chopper is worth every penny, hands down.
- Cheddar cheese really is the star of the show and makes this taste like a loaded baked potato, but you can modify and use any cheese you please. I prefer a mix of cheddar and smoked gouda because I really like the creamy, smoky flavor of gouda, but it’s not for everyone. If you want to keep it simple, use all cheddar, or be adventurous and try other cheeses. A blend of gouda and gueyere would be fantastic mixed with the cheddar!
- Speaking of cheese, DO NOT use pre-shredded cheese. It often includes additives to keep it from sticking in the bag, and it doesn’t melt as nicely into the soup. Shred it yourself. Come on, you can do it!
- Only use 2% or whole milk. A good, thick soup like this is not meant to be made with watery skim milk. Also, I have no idea if soy milk or almond milk will work. If you try it, just make sure you buy unsweetened and not vanilla, or you may be in for a rude awakening.
- You can make this vegetarian by omitting the bacon (including the use of the grease) and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Beef broth? No. Just water? Meh. You lose a lot of flavor that way… using a stock gives it more flavor, but if you don’t have any, you can use water and some bouillon.
- Red potatoes are the best potato for this recipe, hands down. But, to each her own… You can use whatever potato you have. Also, I never peel my potatoes. I keep the skins on for texture, vitamins and flavor.
- Seasonings: Start with the measurements I listed and go from there. I don’t add a lot of extra salt because the chicken stock has plenty for my liking, but I tend to enjoy extra cracked pepper, so I add more than some people.
If you try it, let me know what you think! I’m no chef, and this isn’t exactly a food blog, but I hope this becomes an easy staple in your home and brings warm comfort to you and your family. This recipe is simple, easy to modify, and a little bit goes a long way.