America loves bacon and in this recipe, Wright® Brand Bacon plays a starring role. This Loaded Baked Potato Soup is rich and creamy, and bursting with bacon flavor!
Fall has arrived, and our all-too-hot summer temperatures have finally begun to wane. Fall triggers soup season in our house. At least it does for me anyway. My love of soups runs long and deep, and I look forward to fall each year so I can serve up our favorite soups and stews while the weather is cool enough to enjoy them. This year, I’m jumping into soup season earlier than usual with this delicious Loaded Baked Potato Soup. It’s filling and soul-warming and tastes like a loaded baked potato in the form of a delicious, creamy soup. Mmmmmmm, soup, how I’ve missed you. Welcome home, my friend. Welcome home.
Go just about anywhere and a loaded baked potato means generous amounts of crispy bacon and shredded sharp cheddar cheese along with a pad of butter, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of sliced green onions or chives. Each of these individual flavors compliments one another so deliciously! When a soup utilizes so few ingredients, each of them has to absolutely taste great on its own. The bacon has to be thick-cut and meaty, smoky yet salty and bursting with great bacon-y flavor! After all, the flavor of the bacon is ultimately going to be center stage in this soup. It just can’t be helped; it’s just who bacon is – don’t hate. For this dish, I started with Wright Brand Bacon that I picked up at my local Food Lion grocery store. It’s sold in the refrigerated section where the bacon and breakfast sausage is sold.
As the package suggests, Wright Brand Bacon really is “bigger, better bacon.” I mean, seriously, just look at it! It’s quality you can see. Once you taste it, it will become the brand you trust. I know once I tried it, I was hooked.
I especially like that Wright Brand Bacon doesn’t hide behind excessive or bulky product packaging; there’s just plain see-through packaging allowing me to actually see what I’m buying! If you’re like me, you shop for bacon with a discerning eye, evaluating each pack looking at the fat to meat ratio, the color of the meat and the thickness of the slices. I don’t want fatty bacon that shrivels down to nothing when I cook it! I simply want the best bacon I can buy.
In the great bacon battle, which is your favorite flavor? I’m an Applewood girl, myself. I use Applewood chips in my own smoker when we smoke meats and the Applewood bacon definitely tastes great in this recipe.
For the cheese, I prefer a good, strong New York or Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar. I want the flavor of the cheese to really stand out instead of shrinking into the background of the creamy soup base. If your palette does not prefer sharp cheddar cheese, try a mild shredded cheddar or even a colby jack. If you’d like to add a hint of spice go for a jalapeno jack (pepper jack) cheese. It’s your soup, dress it up how you please!
For the potatoes, I like Russet but Idaho or Yukon Gold are also very good choices for baking potatoes. You could opt to forgo baking the potatoes and boil them instead – in that case, reach for Yukon Gold, fingerling or red-skinned potatoes as they hold their shape best when boiling. The ease and quickness of boiling the potatoes is very tempting to me but baking them in the oven does impart a much richer potato flavor. This takes me back to my original point which is we want to coax the very best flavors out of each of the ingredients in our recipe since there are so few main ingredients. Granted, baking the potatoes is more timely, but it’s hands-off and unsupervised for 45-minutes and does ultimately produce the best flavor.
Shhhhh! This can be our little secret: I often use leftover baked potatoes or bake them on another day when I’m going to be using my oven anyway for dinner. Then I just peel them, rough chop and add them in the soup.
So now, let’s put all those delicious flavors together. Yum.
- 4 large baking potatoes (Idaho, Russet, Yukon Gold) [See Note 1]
- 12 slices thick-cut Wright Brand Bacon Applewood Smoked flavor (about ½ package)
- ½ medium sweet onion, diced fine
- ½ tsp garlic, minced
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken stock low sodium [See Note 2]
- 2 cups half and half [See Note 2]
- 8 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated [See Note 3]
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 3 green onions (scallions) chopped, green part only [see note 4]
- grated cheese
- green onions
- sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the potatoes on a sheet tray or directly onto the oven rack and bake for 45 minutes - or until done. The potatoes are done when a fork or tip of a knife inserted into the potato goes into the center of the potato easily.
- Meanwhile, slice the bacon into thin strips and cook in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside.
- Into the remaining bacon fat, add the diced onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Then add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
- Now, add the flour to the onions and garlic and stir to combine. Continue cooking for another minute or two - but do not brown.
- Pour in the chicken stock and milk while you stir well to incorporate. Cook over medium heat until the soup has thickened, stirring quite frequently, about 10-15 minutes.
- While the soup is thickening, slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and then scoop the potatoes out away from the skins and then add them to the soup. With a fork or the back of your spoon, break up the potatoes a bit.
- Add the ¾ of the bacon pieces (reserving ¼ for garnish) and half of the grated cheese to the soup. Stir until the cheese has melted. Taste and adjust the seasonings well with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and ladle into bowls. Garnish with extra bacon, grated cheese and green onions.
2). I use a combination of half and half (2 cups) and chicken broth (4 cups). This is just to save calories on the dish. If you prefer to use all half and half, use 6 cups and omit the chicken broth.
3). I like the flavor of sharp cheddar cheese in this recipe. If you do not care for it, substitute with a mild cheddar, or Colby Jack. To add some spice to the dish opt for Jalapeno Jack (Pepper Jack) cheese.
4). Chives may be substituted for the green onions (scallions).
Do you have a favorite recipe that uses bacon as a main ingredient? Share it with me below in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!