Who doesn’t love a loaded baked potato? Am I right? Fluffy white potato adorned with a dollop of sour cream, a crumble of crispy bacon, some shards of sharp cheddar, and a sprinkle of scallion. Are you hungry yet? Let’s take it to the next level. Let’s give it a little makeover in the form of a soup. Oh yeah! Soup for a cold winter’s day. The kind of day where scarves and mittens, turtlenecks and down jackets are required to keep you warm from the outside-in, and the kind of day where only a big bowl of steaming hot soup will keep you warm from the inside-out. I know what you’re thinking… this can’t get any better. Well, what if I told you we could enjoy this cozy, satisfying, miracle meal while maintaining all the savory flavor but subtracting many of the heavy calories. And – oh yeah – we’re doing it with a crockpot. It’s true. This is happening.
I had the idea to make this soup for my two guys who would be heading up to the mountains for a couple days of skiing. Though they’ll get their fix of tasty reubens, and spicy Greek chicken wings; there’s just something so right and comforting about homemade soup at the end of a ski adventure… so I hear. Let’s digress for a moment… My whole family skis. And I tried. I bundled up. I got a lesson. I mastered half a bunny hill. (Okay, right about now, my family is thinking, “Mastered? Really?” There was no mastery involved with any part of my experience that day…) Hey! It was the largest bunny hill you ever want to see and it was the scariest afternoon of my life. I fell a lot. Toddlers whizzed by me, laughing as they passed, leaving me in their dust, all with the confidence of people who have skied their whole life – all three years of it; it was all I could to demonstrate for these super-bionic-future-olympiad children how to fall with dignity and get back up again. I mean, it’s a lesson we should all learn, and teach, right? So, needless to say, when my family goes out to ski, I. do. not. And I’m good with this. I’ve checked it off my bucket list and am very happy to move on! Thank you very much.
Okay, back to our soup… (thanks for listening, by the way) beyond the preparation of the bacon and the onions, this entire production occurs in a crockpot. How simple is that? Plus, I tried something a little different with the bacon. I baked it. And it doesn’t get any easier. I threw it in my 400 degree oven and forgot about it for about 20 minutes. No flipping, no mess, and it came out perfectly browned and crisp – just like we like it. You should try it. If you’re anything like I am and hate cleaning up after a spattered, greasy, bacon mess – then you will love this method for cooking bacon. Place strips on a low wire cooling rack inside a shallow roasting pan and let the magic happen. Dom actually taught me this. Brilliant.
The rest of the dish falls together pretty easily. You’ll sauté the chopped onions in a little bit of bacon drippings, cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices, throw the onions, potatoes, chicken broth, and spices in your crock pot, then get lost again. Whatever project you started while waiting for the bacon to cook, you may now return to – for 8 hours. Nice! Once that time is up, you’ll mash the potatoes right in the pot, add the milk, some of the cheddar, cook for 20 more minutes on high, and prepare yourself for this comforting treat. Once the soup is done – ladle into bowls, top with your sour cream, remaining cheese, crispy bacon and chopped scallion. De-Lish.
So my friends, whether you ski or ice skate, snowshoe, or merely enjoy a few moments outdoors letting the fresh frosty air fill your lungs, this soup will punctuate your adventure, however big or small, beautifully.
Now go out and play – dinner will be waiting!
- 3 strips of bacon
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 3 lbs. baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
- ½ cup water
- 1 (32 oz.) container low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
- 4 oz. (1 cup) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
- ½ cup light sour cream
- 4 tsp. chopped scallion
- Cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, reserving 3 tsp. drippings; crumble bacon and set aside.
- Add chopped onion to drippings and saute for 3 minutes or until tender.
- Place potato slices and onion in a 5 quart electric slow-cooker.
- Combine water, chicken broth, salt and pepper; stir into mixture.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or until potatoes are tender.
- Mash mixture with a potato masher; stir in milk and ¾ cup of cheese.
- Increase heat to HIGH.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 20 minutes.
- Ladle soup into bowls.
- Top with sour cream and remaining cheese.
- Sprinkle with bacon and scallions.
(*Recipe inspired by MyRecipes)