Loaded baked potato soup with leeks

Loaded+baked+potato+soup+with+leeks.+Jennifer+Manalili%2C+City+Times

Loaded baked potato soup with leeks. Jennifer Manalili, City Times

Jennifer Manalili

Spring is finally here but it’s never too late to eat some of winter’s hearty, filling dishes and have some comfort food at its finest.

How about a play on loaded baked potato skins? This is the perfect dish to make before temperatures go up.

I recently had to have four wisdom teeth removed so I’ve had to rely heavily on a soft food diet for the last three weeks, dishes like mashed potatoes, pudding and soup have become my best friends. This was my first foray into cooking again after my tooth troubles and it couldn’t have been a better choice.

This dish can encompass all of your favorite baked potato flavors. The leeks are a great addition because it’s sort of the vegetable cousin to onion and garlic, and reaps the tasty flavors of both, with a milder onion taste —- it really makes this soup. The broth is thick and creamy, and you can add whatever baked potato toppings you love and really make it your own.

For a vegetarian version, just omit the bacon. I threw this into a blender to make it easy to eat but I’ve made the original chunky version dozens of times. Serve alongside some crusty bread, crackers or a salad and you’ve got a great meal.

Before cold temperatures are completely off our mind and we’ve abandoned layers and scarves, make this today.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup with Leeks

2 leeks, thinly sliced

8 small to medium sized russet potatoes (or 4 large)

7-8 cups of milk (I used 1% milk)

1 cup sour cream

2/3 cup of butter

2/3 cup of flour

5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Scallions

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon salt and pepper, plus more to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Wash and scrub the potatoes and then wrap them individually in foil. Place them in the oven and bake for 75 minutes or until tender. Cool completely and then cube the potatoes. (I usually bake the potatoes a day in advance.)

2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat and cook the leeks for about 3 minutes until soft. Then add the flour, salt and pepper and stir, making sure there are no lumps. Let the roux cook for about 2 to 3 minutes but make sure to keep stirring, this is your thickening agent. You don’t want the roux to burn, as it will affect the taste of the soup but you also don’t want to make sure it’s undercooked because it will just taste of flour.

3. Gradually add in the milk, 2 cups at a time, whisking after each time. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then cook and simmer until it’s thickened. Turn the burner down to low and then add the potatoes. Heat until warm and then season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Turn off the stove and take the pot off the heat. Stir in the sour cream. Adding the sour cream in when it’s hot will make it curdle, and while it’ll still be edible, it looks kind of weird.

5. Garnish with shredded cheese, sliced scallions and crumbled bacon before serving or add any of your own favorite baked potato toppings. Enjoy!