Sunday, March 21, 2010

Baked Potato in a Bowl

As explained in earlier posts (which are out of order by the way), I haven't been cooking a lot lately. I am trying to remedy that as our wee one gets older and is able to occupy himself while Mommy is in the kitchen. Until then, simple recipes are the only ones that are found in my house.

I wanted to use my crockpot to make a soup and so I turned to the 365 days of crockpot cooking blog:

I knew I could find a yummy soup on there. I was particularly in the mood for a good potato soup. I have made one before but wasn't truly happy with the results. Within a page of scrolling through the blog above, I found a Baked Potato Soup. Um, yum! Sounds just like something that I would love.

The ingredients are dirt cheap. What could be cheaper than potatoes after all? The only ingredient that costs any amount of money is the cream cheese. The broth, the onion and the potatoes are all super cheap. Even the bacon is inexpensive if you buy it on sale (which I did). I think all total, this cost about $7.00 and it makes a TON! You could certainly cut costs and make your own broth instead of buying it. I am not ambitious ::cough, cough, lazy:: so I used canned chicken broth.

I cheated and cut the potatoes and got the soup all ready to go last night. I wasn't sure if I would have time this morning and so I started cooking last night when the wee one went to bed. I am glad I did because all I had to do this morning was take the crockpot out and then turn it on. Super simple!

I will admit: My husband was not looking forward to this dinner. He heard potato soup and I think he thought I was cooking some thin, nasty potato concoction. When I was a kid, one of my friend's moms made a potato soup. Yuck! I used to dread going to her house for dinner. That was a thin, nasty potato concoction. This recipe was not at all. Wow! That's all I can say. Jason had a second bowl after he was very pleasantly surprised. I wasn't though. I knew it would be yummy.

I used russet potatoes. They are starchy and cheap. Plus I hate to peel potatoes so I could get away with buying just four and peeling four huge ones rather than a bunch of small ones. I didn't skimp and use 1/3 less fat or fat-free cream cheese. I used the good ole' fattening, full-bodied creamy cream cheese. If you are watching your waistline, certainly use Neufchatel or the less fat stuff. If you want to further cut calories, use turkey bacon. There is no way on God's green earth that Jason would eat turkey bacon so I used regular stuff. Plus, my crockpot is small so I had to scale back how much chicken broth the recipe calls for. Instead of the 2 quarts it calls for, I had to use 1.5 quarts. The recipe didn't suffer. It probably just made it a lot creamier and richer.

Not only is this recipe inexpensive, it's super easy and super yummy. It really did taste like a baked potato in a bowl! Jason is a protein lover so I made BLT's to go with our soup. It was the perfect pairing.

Make this soup! You will love it!

Baked Potato Soup

5 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced in 1 to 2-inch chunks
1 teeny onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
2 quarts chicken broth
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, to add at the end
crumbled bacon and green onion or chives as garnish (optional)

Use a 6 quart or larger slow cooker. Peel and dice the potatoes, and put them into the stoneware. Add onion and garlic. Sprinkle in the seasonings, and pour in the broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4. The potatoes should be fork-tender. You can use a potato masher to mash the potatoes in the soup, or a hand-held immersible blender. I suppose you can also leave the potatoes in chunks, if you really wanted, but I wanted a smooth soup.

After smashing the potatoes, crumble in both packages of cream cheese, and put the lid back on. Cook on high for about 30 minutes, or until the cream cheese is completely dissolved. Stir a few times during the 30 minutes.

Garnish with crumbled bacon, green onion or chives, and I'd assume cheddar cheese would be just delightful.