{Famous} Loaded Potato Soup

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{Famous} Loaded Potato Soup
THAT recipe... the one everyone knows you for and hopes you're making. Warm, creamy, comforting, delicious potato soup reminiscent of loaded baked potatoes is brimming with ham, bacon, scallions and cheese.
  1. Place 6 pre-cooked or fresh bacon strips in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook to your desired crispness, turning over halfway through. Remove to a paper towel to drain off excess grease. Chop into small bits when cool and set aside. Chop an onion until you have 1 1/2 cups and drop into the bacon grease left in the pan (adding more bacon grease from your stash, if needed). Cook for 4 minutes and then add 2 teaspoons chopped, fresh garlic or 4 teaspoons chopped, roasted garlic and saute for 3-4 more minutes, until the onion becomes tender and the garlic starts to release it's fragrance. Remove from heat. Next, peel and cube your potatoes. I like to make them in the general bite-size range but I'm not terribly particular while cubing them as I know I'll be slightly mashing the larger ones after they're cooked. Put a 6 qt pot on another burner and add the 5 cans of chicken broth, the onion and garlic mixture and then carefully slide in the potatoes. Heat to boiling and then quickly reduce heat to just between medium and simmer. Check after 10-15 minutes with a fork to see if the potato is tender. Once potatoes begin to get tender they will begin to slightly break down. Carefully use your potato masher to mash about 50% of the potatoes, giving you a nice ratio of large and small potato chunks. If they don't mash easily, let them cook a few more minutes and test again. You're not trying to mash the potatoes into anything like mashed potatoes (ie. smooth), you're just shooting for manageable bite-sized chunks. Grab the skillet you cooked the bacon in and drop in the stick of butter to start your roux. Allow the butter to melt and then add the 1/2 cup of flour. Use a whisk to break up the flour/butter mixture (aka a roux) and mix, mix, mix for 1-4 minutes, you want to cook long enough to get rid of the raw flour taste. Add just 2 cups of milk and stir well with the whisk. Once it's decently mixed, pour it into the broth, onion, and potato mixture in your large pot. Mix in well and then add another 1/2 cup of milk and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream or half and half. Add the salt, pepper and fresh thyme to the soup and mix well. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it starts to thicken to your preference. It IS possible to cook potato soup until it's overthickened, so keep an eye on it until is how you prefer it. Stir in the reserved ham, half the bacon, the sour cream, 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese and half of hte scallions. Cook, stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes until the cheese melts and the soup is thoroughly heated. Taste for seasoning a second time. Ladle into bowls and top with a smidge of bacon, scallions a touch of shredded cheese and a turn or two of freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt, to taste, and enjoy the cheers of happiness!
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