Quick, hearty and spectacularly delicious!
I love this recipe because it is a great way to use up leftover baked potatoes. If you are using leftovers, you can have this soup on the table in about 20 minutes, which is another huge bonus; even if you have to bake the potatoes first, it will still take less than an hour to prepare. As my very happy taste-testers can confirm, this bowl of goodness really does taste like fully loaded baked potatoes! For a vegetarian version, skip the bacon bits and melt 1/4 cup (60 mL) of butter in the pot before adding the flour. You can easily prepare this chowder ahead of time and gently reheat before serving; the recipe can also be doubled or tripled to feed a larger group. Leftover mashed potatoes could also be used though the chowder will have a smoother texture.
- 4 large baking potatoes
- 6 slices thick-cut double smoked bacon (or 8 sliced regular bacon)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour OR gluten-free flour
- 4 cups (1 litre) milk (or more, if you prefer your chowder less thick)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) sour cream
- 1 cup (250 mL) grated old Cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped fresh chives or green onion tops
- If starting with raw potatoes, preheat the oven to 375F. Wash and prick potatoes then bake for about 45 minutes; they are done when they can be easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
- Slice the bacon into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) pieces and cook in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the bacon fat in the pot.
- Add the flour to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until flour and bacon fat are well blended and flour has been toasted.
- Pour in the milk a bit at a time, whisking constantly to incorporate the flour mixture. If it looks really lumpy, strain after adding all the milk, wipe out the pot, and return the milk mixture to the pot.
- Cook milk and flour mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until thickened and just beginning to boil. Add a little salt and pepper and stir again.
- While milk and flour cook, cut cooked potatoes in half and use a small spoon to remove the cooked flesh out of the skins. Hold them in a paper towel so you don’t burn your hands!
- Add potatoes to the hot milk mixture and mash gently with a potato masher or a fork, leaving some of the potato pieces intact (you are aiming for a chunky texture).
- Let potatoes warm in the pot for a few minutes, then taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Remove from the heat. Ladle the soup into bowls, add a dollop of sour cream to each then sprinkle with cooked bacon bits, grated cheddar and chives. Serve hot.