I will admit one of the meals that I'm most lazy to prepare is lunch. Most times I prepare myself a decent size breakfast and instead of lunch I snack on cheese and crackers, fruit or sometimes I'll prepare myself a grilled cheese. I really try to manage my time by preparing meals during Elena's naptime or playtime, but I usually reserve that time for making dinner or catching up on my trashy reality shows. Priorities right?
The best solution to my lunch and dinner woes is utilizing my crock pot or slow cooker. I always snicker when I hear the word crock pot, but a slow cooker isn't a term that is too familiar here on the West Coast. Rather than my crock pot collecting dust in the garage, I will be using it to prepare more meals.
This ahhhhh-mazing loaded baked potato soup was one of the first many meals that I have made using my crock pot. There is nothing as comforting as hot bowl of soup during these cold winter months. This loaded baked potato soup is exactly like having a baked potato but in soup form. Plus with the additional meat candy aka crispy bacon on top, it's absolutely perfect.
Adapted from Pink Parsley
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8 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 large onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped finely or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 pounds Russet potatoes (about 6 medium), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces), plus more for serving *I used white sharp cheddar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream (light is fine), plus additional if desired
salt and pepper
Green onions, sliced finely
In a large skillet over medium heat cook the bacon until crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and crumble into bacon pieces when cool. Set aside. Pour off all but about tablespoons of the bacon juice (fat).
Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat until softened and lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant, an additional minute or so. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly until it resembles a thick roux. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the chicken brother, scraping up any browned bits. Cook until the mixture is starting to thicken, and then transfer to the slow cooker.
Stir in the remaining 3 cups of broth, potatoes, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper into the crock pot. Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, 4 to 6 hours on low.
Transfer 1 cup of cooked potatoes to a medium bowl. Add the heavy cream into the crock pot and using a potato masher or immersion blender mash until smooth. Return the potatoes to the slow cooker, along with the shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. Stir to combine and let the soup sit until heated all the way through, about 10 minutes.
When ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls and season soup with salt and pepper. Garnish with crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, sour cream and green onions.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings (about 8 1/2 cups)
Review: Seriously, this was one of the best soups that I have had in a long time, and my little cupcake is even happier that I'm eating this warm lunch. You can easily double the recipe and freeze half for those lazy cooking days, because this soup will disappear faster than you can gobble it up! Instead of using sour cream, I used plain greek yogurt for topping my soup. It's similar in the tangy taste but better for you as well!