03 March 2015

..::Recipe::.. Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup
by Maryanne Cabrera of The Chic Table

"Potatoes can do no wrong in my eyes.  Be it fried, baked, or mashed- potatoes are always welcome on my plate.
This slow cooker recipe takes all the components of a loaded baked potato and whips it up into a delicious and hearty soup.  Unlike traditional baked potato soups that are heavy on the cream, this version is rather light.  Instead of loading up on cream to thicken the soup, I take out a couple cups of the cooked potato and mash them up.  The mashed potatoes provide a nice richness to the soup.

This soup can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth and omitting the bacon.  Believe it or not, I kept to a vegetarian diet for a year and this soup was a main staple.
I am so happy soup season is upon us.  There is nothing quite as comforting on chilly nights as a giant bowl of loaded baked potato soup."

Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup, serves 4-6

5 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
green onions, for serving
sour cream, for serving
additional sharp cheddar cheese, shredded for serving

1.  In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer cooked bacon to paper towel-lined plate and set aside.  Keep 3 tbsp of bacon fat and discard rest.  You’ll want to keep all that burnt little bits in the pan.  They will provide the onions with a lot of flavor.

2.  Heat skillet with 3 Tbsp of bacon fat over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and cook for 15-20 seconds until fragrant.  Add onions and thyme.  Cook until onions have softened.
*note: For vegetarian option, cook the garlic and onions in vegetable oil or olive oil.

3.  Add flour and stir to combine.  Cook for about one minute and then slowly add 1 cup of chicken broth.  Stir to combine.  Transfer onion mixture (including all the browned bacon bits from pan) into slow cooker pot.

4. Add cut potatoes into slow pot, followed by remaining 4 cups of chicken broth.  Cover slow cooker with lid and set to cook for 4-5 hours on low.
*note: For vegetarian option, use vegetable broth. 

5.  Keep slow cooker on “keep warm” setting.  Once potatoes are soft and tender, scoop out 3 cups of potato from slow cooker.  Place in a large bowl and mash using a fork (spoon or muddler work too).  Add milk and cream.  Stir to combine.  Return mixture to slow cooker.

6.  Add shredded cheese to slow cooker and stir to distribute.  Cover slow cooker and let sit for 5 minutes until cheese has melted.  Season with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Sample and season more according to taste.  Serve with green onions, crumbled bacon, additional cheddar cheese, sour cream and other toppings you enjoy with baked potato.

"I like to top my baked potato soup with a heavy sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese, some crumbled bacon bits, a dash of chopped green onions, and of course, a dollop of sour cream.  Feel free to experiment and add additional toppings or vegetables to the soup.
If you try out the recipe, be sure to share a photo with us on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #TheChic."

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