Being of significant Irish heritage (I’m Irish on both sides, even if my dad swore he was Italian through and through his mother’s maiden name was McCulley, I mean come on…), it seems like I’ve always know how to make corned beef and cabbage, the traditional American St. Patrick’s Day meal; however, I no longer eat beef, and Gwen is away, so this year I’m going to forgo the traditional meal. Despite my no beef meal plan, I’m still going to tip my hat to the Irish by making this awesome Loaded Potato Soup recipe I found on Pinterest. That’s not an Irish meal, you say? Maybe, but you don’t get anymore Irish than potatoes…
I found this recipe on one of the coldest days this year, while I was looking for something to warm me up. I ended up making a pot roast, but I banked this one for another time and this is the perfect opportunity to try it out. I headed to the kitchen to make sure I had everything I needed: 7 cups of cubed potatoes, 1 cup of diced yellow onion, 3 cloves of minced garlic (I used the already cut up stuff, it’s much easier), 3 cups of chicken stock, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper, 1 cup of heavy cream, 6 pieces of thick cut bacon (any bacon will do, it doesn’t really have to be thick cut), and shredded Monteray Jack cheese (I used cheddar, because that’s not only what I had in the fridge, but I like it better).
Now that I had everything together, I read the recipe directions all the way through. Man, was I surprised when I found out it wasn’t really a set it and forget it crock pot meal. First you prep your veggies – cut up the potatoes and onion, mince the garlic (if you don’t cheat like I do). Then put them all into the crock pot.
Then you add the salt and pepper. The original recipe gave measurements, but I just went by eye and experience. I also like my potatoes on the saltier side of life. After the veggies are seasoned, you add the chicken stock. This is where the original recipe gets sneaky. It says to cover the pot and cook it on high for 3 1/2 hours, but if you don’t keep reading to the next direction you won’t end up with that really good cooked in bacon flavor that makes the soup taste loaded.
Once I had the crock pot set on high, I head over to the stove and cooked the bacon. When It was nice and crispy, but not crunchy and burnt, I removed it from the frying pan and set it aside to cool it’s heels until the potatoes were ready to be garnished. Then I took the bacon grease (what an amazing smell!) and added it to the crock pot of simmering potatoes. When the bacon grease is in the pot, you can take a walk until the remaining cook time elapses.
Ok, so now the 3 1/2 hours have gone by, and you’re really hungry a1nd anticipating just scooping out a nice helping of creamy soup. Umm, no. We never added the cream. That’s because you now have to remove half of the cut up potatoes and puree them with the cup of heavy cream. The recipe say to do it in a blender, but I used and immersion blender instead (it’s much easier to wash a bowl and the head of the stick blender than try and get my fingers into the blades of the regular blender). Once that’s all cream and smooth, it has to go back into the pot and mingle with the remaining potatoes and stuff for an additional 30 minutes.
30 agonizing minutes later, the soup is finally done! I hate to say it, but it was totally worth the wait and the non-traditional slow cooker style preparations. I dished up a bowl, garnished it with the chopped up bacon from earlier and some shredded cheese.