I did a lot of cooking last week. A lot. In addition to making regular meals for my family, I was also in charge of bringing lunch for twenty-five people at my local school district for our twice monthly meeting with the PTO presidents. That’s a lot of food.
Since it was St. Patrick’s Day on Wednesday, I decided that whatever I made had to fit the theme. Corned beef was out, since so many people are anti-corned beef – oh and the smell in a small room for two hours? Yeah, that killed it, too. I was going to do baked potatoes (Irish potato famine, anyone?) with all sorts of toppings and chili. Until the person at the last meeting brought in chili with all the toppings. Ugh.
I wracked my brains and finally came up with something. I made the Irish soda bread I mentioned last week, along with homemade whole wheat baguettes. I did a quick spinach salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Oh, and I made a baked potato soup.
I started making all of the above at 7am the day of the lunch. I had to be out of the house for an event at school at 10am. Start doing the math. Yikes! The soup was great. The second day. Cooking for two hours the day of the event? Well, it was decent, but it’s possible that the potatoes were a little crunchy. Oops. Needless to say, I changed a few things around to account for my little mistake, and the soup – all two huge crockpots of it – has been gone for three days now.
I served it with a couple garnishes – fresh parsley, shredded cheddar, and crumbled bacon. The unexpected winner of the garnishes? The parsley made the best addition of all of them. If you’re making this soup, make sure you put parsley on when you serve it!
Oh, and my other lesson? When traveling with two very full crock pots, use Saran Wrap, not masking tape. Those fill lines on your crock pot are there for a reason. My poor car.
Baked Potato Soup
3 bacon strips, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
4 c chicken broth
1 baked baking potato, cubed
2-3 baked red potatoes, cubed
1 t basil, dried
1 c half and half
1/2 t Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
1 c shredded cheddar
1/2 c fresh parsley, minced
Bake your potatoes, and cube them. Note that the red potatoes will cook faster than the baking potatoes (you want the baking potatoes for their added starch to thicken the soup).
In a large saucepan (I used my Le Creuset bouillabase pan to make the whole thing), cook bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside. Keep 1 tablespoon bacon drippings, and dispose of the remainder.
Saute onion and garlic in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour slowly and mix well to ensure it doesn’t clump. Add the salt, basil and pepper; mix well. Cook for 3 minutes to get the raw taste out of the flour.
Gradually add broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the potatoes, cream and hot pepper sauce; heat through but do not boil.
You can also make this without baking the potatoes first. In that case, you’ll want to take the boiled broth to a crock pot. Add the remaining ingredients as directed, and cook on low for 10 or more hours. It really is better the next day!
Garnish with bacon, cheese, and parsley. With all the soup I made, you’d think that I had a picture. Nope. I didn’t take a one. It was so good I only remembered to take one after half the bowl was gone.