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Baked Potato Soup with Pancetta

baked potato soup with pancetta

Even though half of my kids have a weird aversion to potato products, I always seem to have them on hand! I convince myself that we go through them faster than we do. So when I fear they are starting to turn to the dark side, I know it's time for baked potato soup! I throw them into the microwave before running errands in the morning and they are perfect to peel and dice by dinner time! This soup is loaded with flavor from the onions and garlic, plus the cheesy topping! Also, I like to use pancetta instead of bacon. The flavor is a little smokier and the texture is less chewy. It's the perfect warm & comforting meal for those damp, early-spring evenings...that even my potato-haters can't wrinkle their noses at!

 build flavor starting with onion and garlic

build flavor starting with onion and garlic

Ingredients:

  • 5 large baked potatoes, slightly cooled
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cups butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 quart half and half
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 teaspoons salt (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 4 ounce package diced pancetta
  • 8 ounces (2cups) grated cheddar cheese
  • croutons & sliced green onions (optional)

 

 pancetta, before and after cooking

pancetta, before and after cooking

Directions: 

Peel the potatoes and dice them into large chunks, about 1-inch pieces. In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the olive oil and cook the pancetta until it's browned and just becoming crispy.  Remove the meat from any fat with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Melt the butter with the leftover fat in the pot. Add the onion and one half teaspoon salt, sauté until translucent and tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Do not let it burn.

 making a roux and gradually adding milk

making a roux and gradually adding milk

Sprinkle the flour over top and stir for about 2 minutes until it pulls together in a thick paste (roux). Stir in the half-and-half 1/2 cup at a time. The paste should thicken up after being stirred in, for the first few additions. Then slowly incorporate the milk.

 baked potatoes, ready for the soup!

baked potatoes, ready for the soup!

Season with the remaining salt and pepper, adding more if needed (potatoes naturally absorb saltiness!) Add the potato chunks and warm through, be careful not to let the mixture burn on the bottom. Ladle into soup bowls and top with your choice of croutons, cheese and green onion. 

 ceamy baked potato soup with pancetta

ceamy baked potato soup with pancetta

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