Nothing screams comfort food louder than a warm bowl of homemade potato soup. It is prepared with just a few ingredients and in very little time. Potato soup is an inexpensive way to feel good from the inside out. The variety of ingredients you can add to alter the flavor makes this the perfect food for all to enjoy!
What better way to start making the perfect meal than to fry up some tasty bacon! Bacon gives potato soup just the right amount of intensity. Also, it adds texture to its creaminess. You start here, by cooking the bacon, because you will be using the grease left in the pan to saute some of the other ingredients shortly. The amount you use really depends upon your tastes. To get a good baseline, try the recipe with one pound. It’s bacon, after all - the more, the merrier! Once cooked, remove the bacon from the skillet, but leave the grease where it is.
The next step is to select a few washed green onions (start with three for your baseline, then adjust as needed). Cut off the roots and chop the remaining white part of each into slices. Stop where the onions turn green. Set aside the green part of the onions for later. Put the chopped white pieces into a large pot. The white part of the green onion will enhance the flavor of the soup. The green part will be used to make a nice garnish, as well as further intensify the soup’s flavor.
You are now going to chop four washed stalks of celery. A useful tip that adds a touch of elegance to this dish is to cut the celery on a bias, or slant, rather than straight. While both are acceptable, celery cut on a bias just adds that little something extra to the appearance. Once chopped, add the celery to the pot containing the white parts of the green onion.
Now that the bacon has had a chance to cool, chop it up into little bits. Put all but 1/4 cup of it into the pot with the onion and celery. Add some of the bacon grease. You don’t need much, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Saute these ingredients on medium heat for ten minutes to really bring out the flavor in the vegetables.
Add one quart of chicken stock to the pot, but leave it on medium heat for now. At this point, wash and dice as many potatoes as you can fit into the pot comfortably. If desired, peel the potatoes first, although their skins are a powerhouse of nutrition. Add the potatoes and boil for ten minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
At this point, you are going to add one quart of a half-and-half mixture of heavy cream and whole milk. Some recipes call for one quart of whole milk only. The addition of the heavy cream adds an extra touch of richness to the soup. The addition of this mixture is going to cool things down initially, so you will need to bring the pot back to a simmer.
Once your soup is simmering, put two more cups of the half-and-half mixture into a cup or bowl. Whisk in 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch until there are no lumps. Cornstarch is a thickening agent and will help make the soup heartier. Once you remove the lumps and the soup has simmered, add this mixture to the pot and stir until incorporated. You will notice it thickening as you stir. Remove pot from heat.
At this point, it’s time to put some soup into a bowl and prepare the finishing touches. Begin by chopping up one tablespoon of parsley sprigs and the green parts of the onions you had set aside earlier. Again, while it doesn’t affect the flavor, cutting the green onion on a bias adds aesthetic pleasantness to the bowl. Sprinkle both, along with some of the chopped bacon reserved earlier, on top of the soup you just put into a bowl.
The shredded cheese you sprinkle on top of your potato soup is, again, a matter of preference. Typically, a brightly colored cheese, such as cheddar, is used to add a pop of excitement to the mostly white soup. With the touches of green that are provided by the parsley and onion, a sprinkling of yellow cheese helps create the perfect color palette. Again, though, if you prefer white cheese, go for it! Even better, you can always just add both!
Now comes the moment you’ve been waiting for. You've smelled the aromatic bacon cook and watched a few simple ingredients transform before your very eyes into one of the world’s most beloved meals. You are now ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you prefer, you can sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Now dig into your bowl of amazing, homemade potato soup.