I squinted down at the bowlful of white glop in front of me then up at the waitress. I asked, “Where’s the cheese?”
“The cheese! The cheese! How can you have baked potato soup without cheese?”
She looked at me like I was nuts. “We don’t put cheese on our baked potatoes so why would we put it on our baked potato soup?”
“Huh?” Realization came slowly (I can be so dense sometimes). “Oh…It’s Baked Potato *pause* Soup, not Baked *pause* Potato Soup.”
The you-are-a-nut look became more intense as she said, “I have no clue what you’re talking about. I can bring you some cheese though. No problem.” And off she went to get a little plastic cup holding a few orange shreds.
The shreds did not ease my disappointment over the ambiguously named soup, nor did they make the soup taste any better, nor did they make me feel like any less of an idiot.
What did make me feel like less of an idiot? The above awkward restaurant conversation inspired me to create this:
Baked Baked Potato Soup
Unambiguously the most heavenly of cheesy carb-fests: It’s baked potato *pause* soup topped with orange shreds, baked, then topped with crispy potato skins, sour cream and green onions.
- 2 tbsp olive oil (divided: 1 tbsp for the whole potatoes prior to baking, 1 tbsp for helping to crisp the chopped potato skins)
- 1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (divided: 1 tsp for the whole potatoes prior to baking, 1/2 tsp for the chopped potato skins)
- 3/4 tsp coarse black pepper (divided: 1/2 tsp for the whole potatoes prior to baking, 1/4 tsp is added to the soup pot)
- 6 slices uncooked bacon (about 6 oz. total)
- 2 tbsp all-purpose white flour
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp table salt or fine kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp dried ground sage
- 2-3 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese
- 6 tbsp sour cream
- 6 tbsp chopped green onions.
Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Place the potatoes on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt and black pepper. Rub each potato to coat with the oil and to spread the seasoning around. Put the potatoes into the oven and bake until they yield easily to a fork prick, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon according to package directions, being sure to reserve 2 tbsps of the bacon fat. Coarsely chop the cooked bacon.
In a large pot, warm the reserved 2 tbsp of bacon fat over medium-low heat for a minute. Whisk in the flour, reduce heat to low and and cook for one minute. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the chicken broth, making sure the mixture is smooth. Slowly whisk in the remaining chicken broth and 2 cups of water.
Chop half of the potatoes and add the pieces to the pot along with the chopped bacon. Slice the other half of the potatoes in half and scoop the fluffy white insides into the pot. Chop the remaining potato skins very coarsely.
Put the chopped potato skins back onto the baking sheet. Drizzle them with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt. Toss to coat and spread them in a single layer. Put the pan back into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and browned.
While the potato skins are browning, add the table salt, 1/4 tsp coarse pepper and the sage to the soup pot. Bring the pot of soup to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Taste the soup and add more salt and pepper if needed. Reduce heat to low and cover pot, simmering and stirring occasionally until the potato skins are crisped.
Place oven-safe soup bowls onto a large jelly roll pan (this makes it easier to get them in and out of the oven). Fill bowls 2/3 full of the soup. Sprinkle each with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cheese. Place the pan of bowls into the oven and bake until the cheese is melted.
Top each bowl of soup with some of the crispy potato skins, a tbsp of sour cream and a tbsp of green onions.
Check out the other posts from the series Linguistically Ambiguous Food:
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