So, here it is Sunday again. I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but here in Michigan where I live, it is unseasonably cold. It's bright and sunny today, but the high isn't supposed to get past the low 30's, and it got down into the teens last night. Putting aside the fact that it is officially spring by the calendar, it is looking like a good night to cook a hearty soup for dinner. If you've read my other posts, you know how much I like to use my slow cooker on Sundays, to keep an easy day simple and stress-free. Therefore, the soup recipe I'm going to share today is part of my "Slow Cooker Sunday" series. It's a super hearty concoction that really does taste like a baked potato! I got this recipe from a good friend at my office, who made it for a birthday luncheon that we had a few months ago. It is amazingly easy, yet it tastes so good!
Baked Potato Soup
1/2 cup butter
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 gallon milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
32 oz. bag frozen hash brown potatoes
2 cups cubed ham
1 tsp. black pepper
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Toppings: Bacon bits, chopped green onions, shredded cheese
Melt butter and cream cheese together in a saucepan. Pour mixture into slow cooker. Stir in milk and cream of chicken soup. Add hash browns, cubed ham, and pepper. Stir well. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About an hour before serving, stir in shredded cheddar cheese and a bit of chopped fresh parsley. Check consistency of soup at serving time. If too thin, add a tablespoon or two of instant mashed potato flakes. Have toppings available in small bowls, and allow each person to add the toppings that they like. Serve with hot crusty bread or biscuits for a complete meal.
Just a couple of notes. This recipe is one of those very "forgiving" ones. You can do almost anything to it, and make any substitutions that you want (including substitutions to lower the fat and calories), and it will still taste great. For instance, I've made this soup with whole milk, and with skim milk, and it was great both ways. I've left out the cheddar cheese since my kids aren't big fans of cheese in soup, and it was still great. I've also cut down on the butter with perfectly fine results, and you could definitely use bacon bits instead of ham or even leave out the meat all together.
I must give you one word of warning, though. I like my potato soup nice and thick, so I always add some mashed potato flakes at the end. If you want to add the potato flakes to thicken the soup, start with a single tablespoon, stir thoroughly, and check the consistency. Add the flakes just a tablespoon at a time, and keep checking the consistency. I say this because it is really easy to add TOO MANY potato flakes, and if you do, you'll end up with a soup that is more like potatoes than soup. (Don't ask me how I know this.) So just go easy on the potato flakes; a few tablespoons should be plenty. Oh, yeah, this soup is just as delicious left over as it is on the day that it's made. I love to take the leftovers for lunch -- a couple of minutes in the microwave and I have a nice, hot meal.
I hope you get a chance to try this recipe. If you do, be sure to let me know what you think!