Monday, February 20, 2012

Cheesy Potato Soup

It's soup weather and I find that making soup isn't nearly as hard as you'd think. Especially when you use your crock pot.  I love my crock pot and will use it often.  I've barely started sharing "real" food recipes with you and already I'm on the second crock pot meal (after my Lemon and Herb Roasted Chicken).  It's just too easy to throw it all together and let it simmer away while you get other stuff done--like unpacking many boxes and cleaning out the basement (or sitting on the couch watching a Law and Order marathon).  Important stuff.  But additionally, this soup is versatile and delicious.  It can be thick and creamy or thin and chunky or somewhere in the middle.  Plus there are loads of things you can do to dress it up and give it different flavors.  I pretty much make a meal out of this soup (or many meals, as Dave isn't a fan).  The recipe makes a ton, so I shared half of this with a friend of mine--an easy meal for her and 3 teenage girls on a busy school night filled with meetings and dance classes.

Like my last crock pot recipe, I adapted my Cheesy Potato Soup from Stephanie at A Year of Slow Cooking.  She has all the crock pot answers, so I usually turn to her first when I'm looking to through something in the slow cooker.  This recipe is versatile, so I ended up adding more cheese than Stephanie had, a little less cream cheese, and then after it was cooked, I stirred in some steamed broccoli and diced ham for a satisfying soup.  Think of this Cheesy Potato Soup as a palate for which to add all those things you love about baked potatoes or loaded potato skins. 

Cheesy Potato Soup


5 pounds potatoes
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups chedar cheese
8 ounces cream cheese
garnishes or mix-ins of your choice: crumbled bacon, green onion, chives, sour cream, diced cooked ham, steamed broccoli (optional, not pictured)

Peel and slice the potatoes into approximately 1-2 inch chunks. 

Place the potatoes in a large slow cooker (at least 6 quarts).  Add onion and garlic.

Note: Peeling garlic can be tricky, but I've learned this easy way from Food Network--place garlic clove on your cutting board and using the wide blade of a knife, sharp side away from you, press garlic until you hear it crack.  Skin will easily slide off.

Sprinkle peppers (oops, my red pepper wasn't in my original picture) over top. Pour in broth (note: I make my broth from a chicken base paste mixed with water).

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.  The potatoes will be fork tender when cooked through.  For a chunky soup, use a potato masher to mash up the potatoes.  For a creamier soup, use a hand-held immersion blender to blend the potatoes into the broth.

Once potatoes are mashed, crumble in cream cheese and cheddar cheese and stir.  Replace the lid and cook on high for about 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in any additional mix-ins, spoon into bowls and top with any garnishes.

Makes 1 gallon of soup.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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