Friday, October 5, 2012

Baked Potato Soup

This soup takes the classic elements of a stuffed baked potato (including (vegan) cheddar and sour cream, green onions, and crumbled veggie bacon bits) but puts them together in a soup for a fun variation.

  • 4 baking potatoes (about 2 and 1/2 pounds)
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups plain non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup shredded Daiya cheddar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup vegan sour cream
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
  • 6 Lightlife bacon slices
1. Prick the potatoes several times each with a fork, and bake at 400 degrees, directly on the oven rack, for 1 hour, until tender.  Let cool, then peel and coarsely mash.  Discard the skins.

Note: it's easiest to peel the potatoes by hand, since the skin pulls away from the flesh slightly during baking.  Just make sure to let the potatoes cool enough first that you don't burn your hands.

2. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Place the flour in a Dutch oven and gradually add the milk, stirring with a whisk until blended.  Be sure to pour the milk in slowly, so the flour becomes suspended in the liquid.  Cook over medium heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, until thick and bubbly.

3. Add the mashed potato, 3/4 cup of the cheddar, the salt, and the black pepper.  Stir until the cheddar starts to melt, and remove from heat.

4. Stir in the sour cream and 1/2 cup green onions.  Return to the burner and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, but do not boil.

5. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp (a little longer than specified in the package directions); remove from the skillet and crumble.

5. Ladle about 1 and 1/2 cups soup into each of 8 bowls. Top each serving with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cheddar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons green onions, and 1 tablespoon bacon.

I served the soup tonight with a big, simple green salad: Toss together 8 cups mixed salad greens, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, 1/4 cup crumbled vegan feta (such as Veg Cuisine), and 3 tablespoons slivered almonds (toast the almonds in a dry skillet first for about 5 minutes over medium heat). Add 1/4 cup Italian dressing (such as Annie's) and toss to combine.

A few orange wedges on each plate round out the meal.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings, (about 1 and 1/2 cups soup, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cheddar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons green onion, 1 tablespoon bacon), Calories 329 

Tasting Notes:
As this cooked, I wondered if I should use a hand blender to puree the mashed potatoes smooth. But I stuck with the recipe, and am so glad I did because this really works. The chunky mashed potatoes in the thick mix of milk and sour cream kept up the fun play on a stuffed baked potato, instead of making this just a pureed potato soup.  The salty bacon and creamy Daiya were great of course, and even the green onions (not always my favorite) worked well in this application.  To that end, I would use a touch less green onion, but that would be my only tweak.

Update: this soup is even a little better as leftovers - creamier, thicker, and richer, with mellower green onion flavor. Consider saving a few bowlfuls for lunch for an extra day or two.


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