I’m Back….It’s Been a While!

Life has happened and I’ve been away from writing for a while….

Let me give you an abbreviated version of  what’s kept me away for the past few months.

In the fall, I decided that I needed to get a part time job to be around people and because I was becoming slightly stir crazy at home everyday.  I also figured the extra money wouldn’t hurt (right??) and this would keep me busy while I worked toward transferring my teaching certificate. I began working at Barnes and Noble in September and met many lovely, wonderful people, and enjoyed the business of book selling, but my favorite part of the job had to be story time with the little ones. However, as the holidays got closer, my part-time hours became less part-time (you know what I mean if you’ve ever worked retail), and my longing to be back in classroom only grew stronger and stronger.

At the same time, Mac received a job offer that he’d been anxiously waiting for for almost two years….an offer he couldn’t refuse (said in my best Godfather voice)! 🙂 His new job would take us to the Chicago suburbs, and we only had about a month to accept the offer, pack everything, tie up any loose ends, find a new place, and move.

So here we are now….after a whirlwind month and a half, we are unpacked and mostly settled, and I’m back to being a “housewife”….at least for the time being. 🙂

Last night I made one of my hubs favorite soups…Baked Potato & Leek with Cheddar & Bacon.  Before I broke down and finally asked my mother-in-law for the recipe, I tried various different potato soup recipes (all yummy in my opinion), but all with the same result. He didn’t like it. “That’s not in my mom’s recipe,” “It doesn’t taste the same,” “Are you sure that’s supposed to go in there?,” etc., etc., etc.

My mother-in-law emailed me her recipe (I think she got it from a magazine years ago) a couple of weeks back and since we are heading into what feels like the gazillionth round of “polar vortex” frigid temperatures, I thought it would be warming and satisfying for dinner last night. (BTW, I am EXTREMELY tired of polar vortexes, snow, static electricity and winter…This has been the LONGEST winter everrrrrrr!)

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This soup is so yummy and tastes like a baked potato….what could be better?!?! I have to admit that this recipe is a little labor-intensive, and may get easier after the first time, BUT it is so worth it!

This recipe makes about 6 cups, or 4 servings.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 lb. each)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced leeks (about 2 medium leeks; white and light green parts), rinsed well
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 1/4 lb.)
  • 2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallion greens or chives

1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees and scrub those potatoes well in water. Pat dry and pierce with a fork a few times. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until very tender when pierced with a fork (about 1 hour). Let cool completely on a wire rack.

2. Melt butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat.  Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 10 minutes). Add the broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the leeks are very tender (about 20 minutes).

**Note: To clean (as leeks can be sandy), I slice the leeks thinly and then place them in a wire/mesh strainer and rest the strainer in a bowl. I run cold water over them and give them a few shakes/swirls and let them drain.

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3. Meanwhile, put the diced bacon in a skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy (about 8-10 minutes).  Transfer the bacon bits with a slotted spoon to a saucer lined with paper towels to drain and cool.

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4. When the potatoes are cool, cut ONE in half length-wise. Use a large spoon to scoop the flesh in one piece from each half.  Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.  Coarsely chop the potato skin and the entire remaining potato and add to the pot with the leeks.

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5. Puree the contents of the pot in a blender until very smooth (you will need to do this in batches). Return the pureed soup to a clean soup pot and reheat over medium-low heat.

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6. Whisk together the milk and sour cream until smooth and then whisk the milk mixture into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the cheddar.  Stir in the diced potato.  The soup should be fairly thick, but if it seems too thick, thin it with a little water.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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7.  Serve garnished with the remaining cheddar, bacon, and scallions or chives.

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I’m going to say it again….this soup is yummy! I may have some of the leftovers for lunch! Mmmmmm!! 🙂

I’m glad to be back…I hope my next post isn’t so long in the making…

Have a great week! 🙂

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