- 1 pound of bacon, sliced into 1/2″ strips
- 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 12 large baked potatoes, cooled (*see instructions below for directions on how to bake potatoes)
- 4 cups milk
- 6 cups chicken broth or stock
- 2 cups shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- optional: up to one cup of instant mashed potato flakes to thicken soup
Creamy Onion Topping Ingredients:
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 1 bunch green onions (scallions), cleaned, trimmed of roots and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- additional shredded cheese
Place bacon slices in a large heavy-bottomed soup pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, just until bacon begins to crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined pan. We’ll get back to this bacon in a bit. Don’t eat it all.
Stir Greek yogurt, sliced onions and Kosher salt together in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time. Making it before the soup gives it time for the flavors to blend.
Drain all but 6 Tablespoons of the bacon drippings out of the pan. Stir the finely diced onions into the bacon fat that remains in the pan and turn the heat to low. Sweat the onions gently until they’re translucent.
While the onions are sweating, cut each baked potato into quarters, taking care to keep the skin as intact as possible. Use a regular soup spoon to carefully scrape most of the insides out of each potato quarter into a large bowl, leaving behind a shell of about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch. When you have eviscerated all your potatoes line your potato shells up on a baking sheet and cover well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the shells for later use as potato skins. Use a potato masher to break up the remaining potato pulp. It doesn’t need to be ‘mashed potato’ smooth, just broken into small bits. Some pieces of baked potato are desirable in the finished soup.
Sprinkle the flour evenly over the translucent onions and whisk until smooth. Turn the heat back to medium. Although at first the fat and flour will seem to seize up it will loosen and become liquid again fairly quickly. Once it returns to a liquid state and begins bubbling stir constantly and cook for 1 minute. This is your roux, or your thickener, for the soup. Whisk all of the milk into the roux and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently until thickened. To check whether your base has thickened enough dip a soup or wooden spoon into it and remove it. If the sauce clings to the spoon and is still liquid, you’re good to move on to the next step. If it is still thin, simmer a little while longer or until it does coat a spoon.
Whisk the 6 cups of chicken stock into the thickened milk base and then stir all of the smashed potato innards into the soup. With the pot over medium heat, stir frequently to prevent scorching. You don’t need to boil the soup; you just need to get it steaming hot. When it is steaming check the consistency. If it is not thick enough for your liking, sprinkle two tablespoons of instant potato flakes over the top of the soup and stir in quickly. Wait a couple minutes and check the consistency of the soup again. You can continue adding potato flakes until it is as thick as you like it. We like our soup quite thick, so I have added as much as 1 cup of flakes before. Make sure, though, to wait a couple of minutes between additions as it takes a little while for potato flakes to reach full thickening power. Stir in the 2 cups of shredded Cheddar cheese until it is completely melted. Adjust the flavors with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the soup pot from the heat and serve immediately with Creamy Onion Topping, the crispy bacon pieces, sliced green onions and shredded cheese.
*Preheat oven to 400°F. Gently scrub potatoes under cool running water to remove any dirt. Pat the potatoes dry and place directly on the middle rack in your oven. Bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes. They are done when they yield to gentle pressure when you squeeze them. (Wear an oven mitt when squeezing them! ) When they are done, transfer to a rack on your counter to cool.