Friday, March 12, 2010

Potato and Cheddar Soup, a work in progress

Not long ago my family was at the grocery store and looking for some potatoes. I don't remember what we planned to make, but we didn't need many. Somehow the cost comparison led us to the 20 pound bag (yes - the bag that weighs more than Zee) ending up in the cart. I think it was $6. The bag is full of nice, small, clean white potatoes, and we're working our way through them. So when my husband said he was in the mood for baked potato soup I at least knew we had plenty of the main ingredient. He said, "Bacon, sour cream, cheese - that kind of soup."

My friend Julie (blog on hiatus) found a potato soup recipe a couple months ago and highly recommended it. While I was looking for it, my husband dug up this recipe. I looked them over and caught a glimpse of the nutritional facts - 169 calories per serving vs. 749! 9.9g fat vs. 49.4g! Per serving, not in the whole pot! A closer look reveals the differences: more milk, 12 slices of bacon (ah-ha!) instead of diced ham, 1/4c more cheese and a cup of sour cream. So all the things my husband wanted in the soup are what made it worse for you. Excellent!

So here's what I made. I used the recipe nutrition facts calculator from sparkpeople here to determine that my soup, with four servings, had 484 calories and 29.8g fat per serving! I thought I did pretty well until seeing that. But it was a good lesson in learning that the little things add up.

Potato and Cheddar Soup, version 1


4 slices bacon
3 cups washed, peeled, and diced raw potatoes
2-3 cups water
1.5 tablespoons butter
2-3 green onions, sliced (3/4-1 cup) white and green parts but not the root bits at the very end
1 tablespoon flour
3 cups milk (we buy whole milk)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/4c shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/3 c sour cream (I used reduced fat)

In a frying pan, cook bacon over medium heat. You want it pretty well done so it will crumble, but not so much that it burns. Remove bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel to dry a bit. Reserve a teaspoon or two of bacon grease for cooking your onions; store the rest in a jar in the fridge or freezer or discard.


While the bacon cooks, put the diced potatoes in a pot with some water, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender. This took about 20 minutes for me. When the potatoes were tender enough, meaning I could squish one pretty easily with a wooden spoon, I left the lid off for a few minutes to let some water evaporate. One of the base recipes called for a cup of the potato cooking water in the soup, so instead of draining the potatoes, reserving liquid and recombining I just cooked it down a bit.


In yet another pot (we're up to two pots and a frying pan now) melt 1.5tbsp butter over medium heat and add in the teaspoon or two of bacon grease (hey, it tastes good!). Throw in those sliced green onions to cook a bit, maybe a minute or two. Have the potatoes or the milk close by and ready to pour in, and sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour into the onion mixture and keep stirring! This will cook the flour a little. After about a minute, add the potatoes and the liquid you have left from boiling them (just dump it in!), milk, sugar, 1 c. of the shredded cheddar cheese, about 1/3 c sour cream (I did not measure this, just a big spoonful), and fresh ground pepper. Stir and let this simmer for a bit, maybe 15 minutes or so.

Crumble the bacon and stir about 3/4 of it into the soup. I threw in the green parts of the onion at this stage as well, although I really have no explanation for this. I let it simmer another few minutes while we got the kids rounded up for dinner and got out the dishes.

I garnished each bowl with a little sour cream, a sprinkle of cheese, and a sprinkle of crumbled bacon on top.

I am not exactly sure why, but the milk or the sour cream (or both?) sort of separated a bit in the soup. I think I had the heat up too high. When I try making this soup again, I'll take more time and keep the heat lower. My macaroni and cheese recipe uses milk and sour cream added to a roux (fat plus flour plus heat is a roux) and it will sometimes separate too. It tasted fine, though. I'm not sure what purpose the sugar served and I will probably leave it out in the future.

Leaving out the sugar, using two slices of bacon instead of four, one teaspoon of bacon grease instead of two, one tbsp of butter and 1 c. of cheddar cheese brings it to 413 calories and 23.4g fat. Those are all small changes that really bring down the fat content. I'll have to let you know how they taste!

I used about half of one of my Vidalia spring onions from the latest veggie trip. That leaves 2 1/2 onions to go... where will they go?

1 comment:

  1. That soup looks and sounds delicious!! Rich and I are on a health kick but every now and then we want something for dinner that is really tasty (if a little bit naughty) and this looks like just the thing.