Cold and dreary days don’t stand a chance when you’re making delicious cheesy potato soup. It’s always been a favorite of mine. Cheese and potatoes in a soup equals two of my favorite things. Top it off with a little bacon and it just takes you to a happy place.
When my husband and I were newlyweds in our first little apartment in Milwaukee, I wanted to make potato soup like my mom’s yummy recipe. It was right before Christmas so the weather was perfect for a nice warm bowl of cheesy potato soup. I bought all the stuff but made one crucial error, ok two errors. Instead of buying Evaporated milk, I bought sweetened condensed milk. BIG difference. The soup had a sickening sweet taste and the sweet flavor combined with the cheese did not go well. We ended up throwing it all out. Here’s where the second error comes in. Instead of throwing the potato peels in the garbage, I thought I’d just shove them down the garbage disposal. Well, it clogged it all up and we had a big mess. We needed to get the lodged peels and excess water out of the disposal and sink somehow. If only we had something that could suck water and the potato peel mess. There happened to be a wrapped Shop Vac sitting under our Christmas tree with a pretty bow on it. It was waiting for us to load it up and take it back home to my dad for his Christmas gift. Yes, we were those people. We unwrapped the Shop Vac and plugged that boy in and he sucked up that potato peel mess out of the clogged sink and we were able to get the disposal working again. I washed the Shop Vac up, packaged it, re wrapped it and gave it to my dear dad who never even minded it being slightly used. Now I have what Rachael Ray calls a “Garbage Bowl” when I cook. I throw peels, seeds, anything food items the animals will eat or will just feed the earth goes into a big bowl as I’m chopping and preparing. My girls then throw it over our back fence into a ravine area so my little critter guests have a little snack and my garbage doesn’t stink in the house and no risk of clogging up that disposal. Anything non food goes into our regular trash. Don’t want you to think we’re just tossing our trash over the fence for Rocky Raccoon to clean up. Side note, I just looked up Rachael Ray Garbage bowl and she sells Melamine bowls like the very one she uses. I may need to grab a pretty green one sometime. I guess that’s how you learn and grow in the kitchen. We’ve all had those meals that didn’t turn out the way we planned. Some are edible and you can try to salvage, some are way beyond repair and you just have to laugh about it. I still remember one time when I was little, my mom put too much red pepper or something into a pizza sauce she made and it was so spicy that my brothers and I could barely eat it. We were all laughing saying it was Dragon Breath Pizza. Just keep working at it, learning from those silly mishaps and laughing along the way and it will all be ok.
Back to this soup . . . I sometimes put Velveeta in my potato soup if I really want that extra cheesy flavor. This time, I decided to make it without Velveeta. If you are into that cheesy melty goodness, then add it in. If you are not into “fake” cheese and want a more naturally made soup then just leave it out and stick to just shredded cheese. I served my soup with warm baked Rhodes frozen dinner rolls. I’ll admit, homemade rolls are awesome. I haven’t had much success in making them and no one wants to eat a crumbly rock hard baseball of a roll, so I’ll keep at it. In the meantime, I use Rhodes.
Cheesy Potato Soup
4-5 lbs Russet potatoes. Washed, peeled, washed again and chopped into about 1/2 inch size pieces.
1/2 medium to large onion – Diced fine
3 garlic cloves – minced
5-6 C Water
2 low sodium chicken bullion cubes or 2 TBS chicken soup base dissolved in 2 C boiling water
3 TBS butter
3 TBS all purpose flour
2 C milk
1/4 C heavy cream
3 C shredded cheddar cheese. I use sharp cheddar. Fancy shredded seems to melt faster than regular shredded.
1/2 TBS dried thyme leaves
Kosher or Sea Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Optional – 1/2 to 3/4 C cubed Velveeta cheese product and Shredded cheese and bacon for garnish
Add peeled, washed, and chopped potatoes to very large pot.
Add 5-6 C or just enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring this to a boil and boil on medium – high heat for around 20 min until potatoes are tender.
In a smaller saucepan or pot, melt butter on medium heat.
Add in diced onion and sauté for a few minutes until onions are soft and translucent.
Add in garlic and sauté for a few minutes turning heat down to avoid burning garlic.
Add in 3 TBS flour and stir with the melted butter, onions and garlic to make a rue. Keep stirring the paste for a few minutes.
Add in 2 C milk and 1/4 C heavy cream and slowly stir until sauce begins to thicken on medium heat.
Add in 3 C shredded cheese and mix until cheese is melted in. Add in Velveeta if using it. Stir on low – medium heat until all melted.
Turn cheese sauce mixture down to low heat and stir.
Mix up chicken bullion cubes or chicken base in boiling water.
Once potatoes are tender, do not drain them. Turn them down to a simmer. Add the chicken bullion/water mixture to the potatoes and their water.
Slowly add in the cheese sauce mixture to the pot with potatoes and stir to combine.
Add in 1/2 TBS dried thyme.
Season to taste with Salt and Pepper.
Garnish with cooked chopped or crumbled bacon and a little more shredded cheese.
Makes around 5 quarts.