A loaded baked potato is a baked spud piled high with savory, unhealthy toppings such as cheese, bacon, sour cream, and chives. This recipe is basically a loaded baked potato that is in liquid form; a creamy, thick soup filled with chunks of potato, bits of bacon and melted cheese. The soup is fast and easy and makes a nice, simple meal.
Makes 6 main course servings
First you need to bake the potatoes. Wash the raw potatoes well to remove excess dirt and stab them several times with a fork. Place the potatoes into a 400 degree oven directly on the oven rack. The potatoes should take about 45 minutes to cook. Test to make sure they are tender by stabbing them with a knife. Let the potatoes cool on a cutting board until you can handle them. Use a paring knife to peel away the skin and cut the potatoes into small cubes. If you have leftover baked potatoes from another meal you can peel and dice those also.
While the potatoes are baking, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat for about 15 minutes until brown and crispy. Drain the bacon on paper towels to remove excess grease. Let the grease in the skillet cool and store it in the fridge for a later use (such as cornbread!). Cut the bacon into small pieces.
Once the potatoes are ready it's time to make the soup. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the butter over medium heat until it is melted. Add the flour and use a whisk to quickly mix the flour and butter together to make a paste. This paste is called a "roux" and will thicken the soup. Continually whisk the roux until it has turned a light brown and gives off a wonderful nutty aroma. If the roux burns, toss it and start over.
Now add the milk to the pot, slowly at first (don't burn yourself on the steam!) Whisk continually while the milk is added so the roux does not end up as clumps in the liquid. Once the milk has been added toss in the baked potato cubes and the chives. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring often to keep the soup from burning on the bottom of the pot. Once the soup reaches a boil turn down the temperature to low and let the liquid simmer for about 10 minutes. The soup should have thickened by this point. Add the bacon, sour cream, and cheese. Mix until the cheese is melted. Add the salt and pepper as needed.
Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle additional bacon bits, cheese, and chives on top. The soup should be eaten immediately, but it can be stored in the fridge for several days. Because the soup is so hearty and rich it really is meant to be a main meal instead of a first course. Nice accompaniments include freshly baked yeast or cornbread and a simple green salad. Enjoy!