All this week, The Takeout staff writer Kate Bernot is attempting to turn her favorite dishes into soup.
I can admit when I’ve fucked up. And taco soup, we all agree, was a fuck up. Eager to rebound from my earlier failure, I needed a guaranteed hit, a soup that was sure to taste wonderful and redeem this entire harebrained soup experiment.
So I went to a trusted source: Smitten Kitchen. Where do I even start with my (no joke) affection for Deb Perelman? Certain recipes of hers have become near-biblical foundations in my house, and I know that when I try out a new one—say, from her recent cookbook (one of The Takeout’s favorite cookbooks of 2017)—I won’t be led astray. Please Smitten Kitchen, have a soupified hit for me.
And lo, for unto us a savior is born this day, who is Baked Potato Soup. It’s adapted from a Cooks Illustrated recipe, which means it’s doubly trustworthy.
Plus I really like baked potatoes. Are there people who don’t? This soup seemed like the win I needed: creamy, starchy, topped with bits of bacon. I modified the recipe only slightly, because I only had hard-neck garlic that wasn’t amenable to the technique SK recommends. Other than that, I cooked it by the book.
Baked potato-leek soup
- 5 big cloves garlic, peeled but not chopped
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium leeks (white and light green parts), chopped into half-moons*
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- Table salt
- 5 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- Ground black pepper
* I think I might have used more green portions of the leeks than recommended, because my soup turned out lightly pea-colored.
- More sour cream
- Three strips bacon, crumbled
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Chives, chopped
- In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until soft but not browning. Add garlic cloves, stir for two minutes.
- Add broth, bay leaves, and a generous sprinkle of salt. Reduce heat to simmer; cook until garlic heads are soft and easily poked with a fork, about 30 minutes.
- Add potatoes, simmer uncovered until they’re soft, about another 20 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and garlic cloves. (I smooshed up two of them and added them back to the soup, but I don’t think it requires it.)
- Add sour cream and cook another couple minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until it’s your desired consistency. Top with garnishes.
Verdict: This soup was as good as I’d hoped, capturing the starchy goodness of a baked potato with some perky freshness courtesy of leeks and garlic. Obviously, it’s just potato-leek soup with baked potato toppings, but it tastes too good to argue over semantics.
Besides the memorable thread of garlic, I think the texture is what makes it: I pureed mine until nearly smooth, but leaving chunks of potato would enhance its baked potato factor and contrast nicely with the salty-crunchy bacon bits and smooth sour cream.
My boyfriend liked it; I liked it. Usually I consume approximately three-quarters of a baguette while eating a bowl of soup, but this one was so substantial I didn’t need bread, period—though I won’t steer anyone away from extra carbs. It was an even bigger success than lasagna soup, and I’ll certainly be adding it to the regular winter dinner rotation.
A final question for readers: Do you have secretly amazing yet unconventional baked potato toppings? Please enlighten me so that I can further bedazzle this soup next time around.