Sunday, January 3, 2010

Soup Night

Fully-Loaded Baked Potato and Beer Soup with Cheddar and Chive Dippers

A new year is upon us full of new challenges and possibilities, but the weather has yet to change. January in Oregon is typically wet, cold, and grey. Being the frugal girl I am, I'll do anything not to turn on the heat in my apartment even though it's like living in a giant refrigerator. On nights such as these- I am in need of a hearty dinner that will warm me from the inside out. I put this recipe together as a twist on one of my favorite side dishes . . . the noble baked potato. But here, rather than playing second-fiddle to a rib-eye steak , the potato takes center stage.


- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. small, yellow potatoes such as Yukon Gold, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 c. water
- 1 12 oz. bottle of dark ale
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 1 lb. grated sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced down the center
- 1/2 c. mayonnaise
- 1/4 c. chopped fresh chives
- salt and pepper to taste
- sour cream and extra chives for garnish

In a large, heavy soup pot heat olive oil over medium. Add diced bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon from pot and place on paper-towel lined plate to drain. Reserve bacon fat in pot. Return to heat and add onion. Cook over medium until onions are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add potatoes, water, and bottle of beer. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 20 minutes until potatoes are soft.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine half of the grated cheese, mayonnaise, and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide mixture evenly among ciabatta bread slices and spread evenly on top. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Turn on broiler. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5-7 minutes. Pay attention so that toasts do not burn. Remove toasts from oven and cover with foil to keep warm.

When potatoes are cooked through, remove soup from heat. Working in batches, blend about half of the soup in a blender (or use your trusty immersion blender) until creamy. Leave some potato chunks in the soup. Return soup in pot to low heat, add cream and remaining shredded cheese. Stir and cook until combined and warmed through. Add diced bacon to soup, season with salt and pepper.

Remove soup from heat. Divide among four bowls. Top with a dollop of sour cream and pinch of chives. Serve each bowl with a cheddar and chive dipper. Enjoy!

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