Monday, April 18, 2011

Creamy Potato Bacon Soup with Basil

This is a great staple that I like to make for dinner, and then use leftovers for lunches. The nice thing about this soup is that you can make it thick and almost stew-like, or really runny and soupy. (I prefer thicker.) It's also really easy to make large or small batches of it, depending on how much you have of certain key ingredients. If I'm feeling really energetic, I'll make some bread-bowls to go with it, but regular rolls, toast, or crackers also work well.

Here's the basic recipe:

1-2 lbs potatoes, any kind. (You can use leftover baked potato.)
2 large onions
5-10 pieces of bacon, cooked and chopped
milk (whole milk is best. Most recipes will call for cream, but I like to use milk because it's less fatty but still give the creamy texture.)

1) Put your soup pot on the stove over medium-high heat and put a little oil or butter in the bottom. (I like to use bacon grease, which I save and keep in the fridge.) Dice the onion (and 2-3 cloves of garlic, if you want) and saute them in the pot.

2) Once the onions are soft, add about 1/2 cup of white flour. (This is to thicken the soup.) Stir it around until all the flour is moistened, then quickly add a little water so the onion/flour mixture doesn't start to burn.

3) Chop up the potatoes and toss them in, adding enough water to cover them by a couple inches. If you're using a full pound of potatoes, I'd recommend adding 6-8 cups of water. If they are leftover baked potatoes, then you just need to wait until the water boils. If they're raw, you'll need to let the water boil for a while, until the potatoes are cooked.

4) While the water is heating up, add 3 tablespoons of sweet basil (I know this seems like a lot, but it's worth it!) and salt to taste. You'll probably want at least 2 teaspoons. I usually add a little while the potatoes are boiling, and then later, when it's almost done, I taste it and add some more if it needs it.

5) After the potatoes are soft, turn the temperature down to medium, and add the milk and the bacon. (I said 5-10 pieces because you can put in a little or a lot depending on how much you like bacon.) However many cups of water you added, add half as much milk. So, if you added 8 cups of water, add 4 cups of milk. Again, you can use whatever kind of milk you want, but whole milk will give you the creamiest taste without actually using cream.

6) At this point, I like to let the pot just sit on the stove for a while, letting all the flavors mix. If it's getting close to serving time, it's ready to serve, but it's ideal to have half and hour to an hour to just let the pot sit on the stove. Just make sure that you don't boil the soup after you add the milk.

Let me know if you have any questions or points that need clarification!

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