As we begin to approach winter and encounter more cold days, soup and other warm meals make their way into our homes. One thing I love about making a hearty meal like soup or chili is that the leftovers are usually just as good as when you originally made them so it's perfect for a dinner and subsequent lunches throughout the week.
Today, I'm going to share with you two of my favorite soups to get you prepared and excited for colder days.
My first favorite, and a classic, is baked potato soup. I typically use a simple recipe and just top it with cheese and bacon bits. Pinterest has a million recipes and I've found one that's great every time. It hails from The I Heart Naptime Cookbook by Jamielyn Nye. The recipe makes about eight servings and doesn't take too long to make either so it's perfect for a quick but filling meal. The most recent time I made this we used a bag of frozen hashbrown chunks, thawed, to cut down on the prep time of the potatoes and it was still fantastic!
BAKED POTATO SOUP:
-4 potatoes (with or without the skins is up to you, maybe try the hashbrown trick!)
-8 slices of bacon
-4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
-2 cloves of minced garlic
-1/4 cup of yellow onion
-1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
-2 cups of low-fat milk
-1 cup of half and half
-2 cups of chicken stock
-1 teaspoon of salt (add more depending on your taste)
-1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
-1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
-1 cup of mild cheddar cheese
-1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese
-1 cup of sour cream
-optional: fresh chives for a garnish
Pierce the potatoes a few times with a fork and microwave them for 12 to 15 minutes or until softened. Cut them in half and let them cool. If you want to remove the skins now is the time to do so. After cooling, cut them into chunks.
While the potatoes are being softened in the microwave, cook your bacon until it's crisp. Once it's cooked, lay the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate to cool and drain the excess grease. Save about 1 tablespoon of the grease for later.
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the bacon fat, onion and garlic and continue to cook it until the onion becomes tender (around 2 to 3 minutes). Whisk the flour into the pot slowly and continue to stir for a couple of minutes. Then slowly add the milk and half and half while still whisking. Whisk the mixture until it becomes smooth, then add the chicken stock. Bring it to a light simmer and whisk in the salt, pepper and garlic salt. After combined, leave the pot at a light simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes or until it's thickened.
If you want to garnish your bowl with cheese and bacon, set aside 1/4 cup of each. Stir in what's left of the cheese and bacon and add the sour cream. Next, you'll remove the pot from the heat and add the chunks of potato you've already prepared. You can mash the potatoes a bit, break them into smaller pieces or leave them in chunks.
Serve your soup! You can garnish with the leftover cheese and bacon and add chives if you wish.
Here are some pictures from when I made it recently!
One of my other favorite winter meals is chicken and gnocchi soup. I found this thanks to Olive Garden's version of it and then found a recipe online. I usually enjoy it with some kind of breadstick to get the full effect. This can be paired with a salad as well to get in more veggies and to have more soup leftovers after the fact. I also think it would be great with a white wine if you're feeling it! This recipe is pulled from the Taste & Tell blog and offers many other recipes if you're looking for more inspiration. Their blog has been mentioned in many other publications, so you know it's good. This recipe makes six servings so if that won't give you leftovers, I recommend doubling it because you'll want more!
POTATO AND GNOCCHI SOUP:
-2 tablespoons of butter
-2 tablespoons of olive oil
-1 cup of diced onions
-1 cup of diced celery
-1 cup of diced carrots
-2 cloves of minced garlic (use fresh garlic for a fuller flavor)
-1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
-salt and pepper to taste
-1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
-2 cups of chicken broth
-4 cups of half-and-half
-2 cups of cooked chicken, this can be shredded or cubed (I also like to use a rotisserie chicken for this)
-1 pound of gnocchi cooked according to the package's directions
-2 to 3 cups of chopped baby spinach
In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat up the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Then add the carrots, celery, onions, garlic and thyme to cook until they have softened (between 5 and 10 minutes). Season your pot with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the flour and cook it for a couple more minutes. Slowly add and whisk in the chicken broth (be conscious of any browned bits at the bottom and scrape them up to incorporate them). Slowly whisk in the half-and-half then stir in the chicken. After combined, bring the mixture to a simmer and leave it to cook for about 20 minutes.
Add in the cooked gnocchi and chopped spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted.
Serve your soup! You can add more salt and pepper as you see fit and enjoy!