From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I'd like you to close your eyes and imagine you've just had a bite of a loaded baked potato. There is, of course, the flavor and texture of that lovely potato, but can you also taste the butter and bacon and onion and cheese that smother it? Believe it or not, chef Gina DiLeone-Dodd has been able to capture all those flavors in a soup that comes together in a slow cooker. I must admit I was dubious about this recipe, but I was drawn to its simplicity and egged on by the hope that something this simple to make could actually deliver the flavors my memory brought to mind. So, I dutifully peeled a boatload of potatoes, nearly enough to feed the entire Fifth Army, threw them into my slow cooker and let nature take its course. At the appointed hour, I uncovered the pot and added the butter and cream and threw some salt over my shoulder for luck, because a taste at this point gave no indication of how this soup was going to get from here to there. Twenty minutes later, I gave it another taste and was still disappointed. Then a kitchen miracle occurred. The addition of the bacon and onions took the soup to a whole nother level and the finished pot really did taste like a loaded baked potato, one that you would actually enjoy eating. I did not puree the soup because I wanted it to retain some texture and I thought the remaining chunks would enhance the potato flavor as they hit the tongue. The recipe for this soup first appeared in the cookbook, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker, written by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. It's a great book for those who use their slow cookers a lot. This is a nice recipe to have on hand when those cold north winds begin to blow. I do hope you will try this inexpensive and almost effortless soup. Here's the recipe.
Baked Potato Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Gina DiLeone-Dodd as featured in Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker
5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup sour cream (don't use nonfat)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 ounces bacon, cooked until crisp, drained on paper towels and crumbled
6 green onions (white and green parts), sliced, or 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1) Put potatoes in the slow cooker and add water to cover. Cover and cook on HIGH until potatoes are cooked and falling apart, about 5 hours.
2) Turn cooker to LOW; add butter, half-and-half and sour cream, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until hot, about 20 minutes.
3) Stir in the crumbled bacon and sliced green onions. Serve immediately, or keep warm on LOW, adding milk or water to thin, if necessary. Yield: 12 servings.
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