BAKED POTATO AND LEEK SOUP WITH CHEDDAR AND BACON BITS
- 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 pound each)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium leeks (white and light green parts), sliced and rinsed well
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (I used roasted garlic)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock
- 4 thick slices bacon, dice into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar (about 1/4 pound)
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens or chives
YIELD: approximately 6 cups; serves 4
-- Heat the oven to 375. Scrub the potatoes, pat dry, and pierce several times with a fork. Bake until very tender, about 1 hour. Let cool completely.
-- Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and 2 cups water. Simmer until the leeks are very tender, about 20 minutes.
-- Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
-- Cut one of cooled potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh out in one piece from each half. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. Coarsely chop the potato skin and the entire remaining potato and add to the pot with the leeks. Puree the contents of the pot in batches in a blender until very smooth. Return the soup to a clean pot and reheat over medium low.
-- Whisk together the milk and sour cream and then whisk this into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the Cheddar. Stir in the diced potato. Season with salt and pepper.
-- Serve garnished with the remaining Cheddar, the bacon bits, and the scallions or chives.