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Baked Potato & Leek Soup with Cheddar & Bacon

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Yields about 6 cups.

Serves four.

  • To learn more, read:
    Cooking with Cheddar
  • by Jennifer Armentrout from Fine Cooking
    Issue 57

  • 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 lb. each)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2-1/2 cups sliced leeks (about 2 medium leeks; white and light green parts), rinsed well
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar (about 1/4 lb.)
  • 2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallion greens or chives

Heat the oven to 375ºF. Scrub the potatoes in water, pat dry, and pierce in several places with a fork. Set them directly on an oven rack and bake until very tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the leeks are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the bacon in a skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon bits with a slotted spoon to a saucer lined with paper towels to drain and cool.

When the potatoes are cool, cut one of them in half lengthwise. Use a large spoon to scoop the flesh 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. Purée the contents of the pot in a blender until very smooth (you'll need to work in two batches). Return the puréed soup to a clean soup pot and reheat over medium low. Whisk together the milk and sour cream until smooth and then whisk this into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the Cheddar. Stir in the diced potato. The soup should be fairly thick, but if it seems too thick, thin it with a little water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the remaining Cheddar, the bacon bits, and the scallions or chives.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 290; Fat (g): 20; Fat Calories (kcal): 15; Saturated Fat (g): 9; Protein (g): 30; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2; Carbohydrates (g): 32; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 85; Sodium (mg): 3; Cholesterol (mg): 850;

Photo: Scott Phillips

The overall flavor was good, but there wasn't enough potato and too much leek. I used just over a pound of potatoes, but there wasn't enough to blend to make it creamy and still have some left over for chunks. It was a bit watery. Next time I'll add more potatoes.

The soup tasted great until I added the milk and sour cream. That took the flavor down so many levels, the cheese, bacon and scallions could not help bring it back. I also added white pepper which helped a little. If I ever made this again I'd add a little more chicken broth and skip the milk and sour cream.

Good overall... missing some flavor. Next time I'll cook the leeks and garlic in the bacon fat and then add some hot sauce at the end.

Excellent - very similar to my all-time favorite potato soup, which also depends upon baked potatoes for rich texture and earthy flavor. Sometimes I leave out the potato skin for a more refined dish and I use Cabot's sharp white cheddar. I add a little thyme and a dash of cayenne and substitute heavy cream for the sour cream. However, my real secret ingredient is 3 tablespoons dry sherry added to the soup during the last minute of cooking. Try it - your guests will taste the difference and won't be able to identify it.

Loved it. Used Organic Skim Milk and Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream. It turned out Awesome. I didn't really think it was bland as someone else complained, but I probably added a little bit more pepper, the leeks, cheddar and bacon definitely add flavor. I garnished it with lots of green onions though so who knows, maybe that was the difference. DEFINITELY DOUBLE the recipe. I did and didn't regret it.

This was really good. I used creme fraiche since I don't have sour cream, and used English cheddar. Would definitely make it again...thanks!

I really wanted to love this soup after reading so many positive reviews, but I was totally underwhelmed. I'm a huge fan of Fine Cooking recipes, but this one is flat, boring and tasteless. This is the only time I've made a Fine Cooking recipe that disappointed. Even my $18.00 a pound English Cheddar couldn't save it.

This was absolutely delicious. I usesd Cabot Vermont Sharp Cheddar, 2% milk and light sour cream. I will definately make this again...will probably double the recipe. Thank you!!

Excellent recipe - I love the fact that the whole potato is used. The soup seems quite forgiving: I used cream cheese instead of sour cream, added caramelized onions and carrots. I also had a collection of scrap cheeses that I threw into the mix - everything from cheddar, jack, Parmesan, Swiss and some smoked Gouda. There were no leftovers. I wouldn't change anything from the original but will say not to be afraid to add a little extra leeks.

This soup is fantastic. I've made it often and it's never failed me. Great for warming up in cold rainy or snowy weather. One shortcut I take is to buy baked potatoes at a local fast food spot, rather than bake my own - I get two plain baked potatoes and it cuts the prep/cooking time down by about half.

I thought this soup was a bit bland. My boy friend loved it. I added a bay leaf while I was cooking the leaks. I think it needed something else to really sparkle.

I used 2 left over baked potatoes, so the cold potatoes were easy to work with. Also I used vegetable broth and just used bacon for the meat eaters in the house. It was great either way!

This soup is delicious and still just as tasty as leftovers.

Easy to make and a good winter soup choice. Creamy without being too rich.

Great potato soup recipe. I prepared it exactly according to the recipe--it turned out perfect. It won rave reviews at my house!

creamy and delicious...a great winter soup!

Great tasting and easy to make. Baking the potatoes first really added an extra layer of flavor. The 2nd time I made it, I added 1 caramelized onion for an extra boost in flavor.

Fabulous rich winter soup! I thought the pre-baking of potatoes might be a bother, but it was worth the effort - and wasn't that much extra effort really. Nonetheless, I was too impatient to wait for them to cool totally, so I prepared them when still warm - can't see that it did any harm to the result. Using a hand blender directly in the pot was a great time-saver too. I really liked the toasty flavour that the potato skins lent to the soup. I added some dried thyme and a bay leaf (the bay I removed before blending). The homemade chicken stock I used had quite a vinegary flavour (vinegar extracts the gelatine from the chicken bones), so I used another reviewer's tip to substitute cream cheese for the sour cream, except that I used half sour cream and half cream cheese - it was enough to mellow the vinegar. I didn't have any extra chives or spring onions, but I did have some homemade basil pesto that I put a dob of in each bowl when serving and it combined perfectly. Only had a few thin bacon strips, but it added just enough smoky flavour. If I'd had more time, I would've made croutons, but as it was I just served with wholemeal toast and a cabbage salad. I will certainly make again!

Loved this version. Added celery in the puree and diced ham in the finished version. Surprising creamy with little to no starchiness. This will replace my old favorite which used excessive brick cheese to create that creaminess.

This soup has become a mainstay for us when the weather turns cold. It is so rich and delicious! My emersion blender works well for this. We might try serving it in a hollowed out bread bowl next time.

The soup was a great texture, not too thin or thick, and the flavor excellent. I added an extra potato and took away half the leeks, as I was afraid it wouldn't taste potato-ie enough for me, and I'm glad I did. You can taste the leeks, but its still potato soup.

This was one of the better potato soup recipes I have made. I liked pureeing the skin into the soup a lot. Also I cut the butter in half and used cream cheese instead of sour cream (since I didn't have any). I also added a few dashes of hot sauce. Otherwise I followed the recipe. It turned out creamy, hearty and delicious. Even my boyfriend who thinks soups are my weak point really enjoyed this recipe.

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