Potato Bacon Soup
What can be better? Warm creamy soup, soft bites of potatoes, and bacon. SO MUCH BACON!
Potato soup is something that makes me think of spending time in the kitchen with my parents, specifically with my Dad. I don’t know where DOD (Dear ‘Ol Dad) learned to make potato soup, but he taught me the basics. Which naturally means I have been perfecting how I do this over the past 15 or so winters.
Over that time I have added more veggies, like the carrots and celery and onions (despite DOD’s utter dislike of all things onion), as well as learned how to thicken the soup without half a box of instant mashed potatoes.
I love that a great potato soup can be as simple as potatoes, broth, a touch of milk/cream, and a big helping of love. This is a soup that always makes me think of home. Everything else just makes it even better! Let me show you some of my secrets!
I like to start with prepping all of the fresh ingredients, taking just a few shortcuts as I do it.
The onion is a quick peel, then slice, then quarter and quarter again–this makes a rough chop of eight pieces from each onion slice–the pictures above might be a more clear instruction.
Celery! Don’t skip the leaves when you have them! I tend to alternate between buying the super big bunches of celery and the smaller packages of celery hearts (what I used today) solely based on how they look. Sometimes the bigger stalks just don’t look very appealing. And again–use the leaves, both those on top and the ones on the innards of a bunch of celery.
I take the short cut with the carrots when I have baby carrots in the fridge. Otherwise I would wash/scrub the dirt away, peel them, then slice/dice into small bite size bits.
In the spirit of prepping, I share my imperfectly perfectly rough chopped vegetables! These three, onions, celery, and carrots make up a mirepoix. There are fancy sounding reasons for why it works. I’m not the best resource to share those. Just know that in my opinion when you use equal amounts of each veg (I check rough weights not volume) some of that extra flavor magic works its way into your dinner.
The potatoes are basically the star of this soup, and I use the whole bag. All three pounds! Potato prep is simple: Wash/scrub the dirt away, peel (totally optional), then cut/dice into bite size pieces.
I like to use the Russet Potatoes in this hearty soup (also known in my family as an Idaho Potato regardless of if was actually grown in Idaho). I think they hold their texture a bit better than other potatoes when making soup. It is really a great all around potato to keep around for inexpensive yet belly filling meals 🙂
BACON!!! This is one of the most important items in this recipe for me (other than the potatoes of course). Bacon makes so many foods better. The hack I have is you bake the bacon. Shared slightly out of order, I actually put the bacon in the oven to cook while I wash/peel/prep all the other vegges.
Trust me and do not toss the bacon fat! You paid for all of the bacon so you should be able to use it all!
Your standard 12 ounce package will work perfectly, but if you are a bacon snacker while you cook, you may want to buy extra! Also: Pro tip–If you use peppered bacon, don’t add extra pepper into this recipe!
Now that the prep is finished, lets start cooking!
Remember how you just put your trust in me by not immediately tossing the bacon fat when we just saw those super awesome amazing pictures of freshly baked bacon? Yes? Well here is the bacon fat being added into our soup.
Sound crazy? I get it. Let me explain.
My favorite way to thicken many dishes is using a roux. A Roux sauce is basically where you take a fat, add flour, cook it, then add a liquid. Somehow this magical formula causes the liquid to thicken when added to the fat/flour mixture. You can use it for a great queso, spinach dip, alfredo, mac-n-cheese, and even a gravy!
That roux doesn’t work so great in this recipe though. The chunky veggies make it hard to mix in evenly/smoothly/easily.
I modify the idea of the roux by starting with the bacon fat (you can totally use butter or olive oil if using the bacon fat makes you uncomfortable). Then I add and cook the veggies, and add the flour, cook some more, then add the chicken broth.
This still equates the same formula:
fat (bacon) + flour + heat + liquid (chicken broth) = thickened soup
It just happens to also have four ish pounds of veggies semi silently hanging out in the party!
Our veggies have been added to the mix, and they need time to cook down a bit. I describe the process in some of my other recipes as ‘sweating’ the veggies. We want to add enough heat to the bacon fat/veggies mixture that the veggies start to release some of their liquids and start becoming soft. Browning or crisping of the veggies is an indication the stove is on too hot.
Stir the veggies every few minutes. When they start getting just a little mushy on the edges it is time to add the flour.
Loosely measure about 1/2 cup of flour and add it to the veggie mix, then stir well. Yes, there are a lot of veggies in the party but 1/2 cup flour will be enough. You will want to cook it for just a minute or two before moving on.
Now we are ready to add our liquid to finish up my modified roux idea. To mix everything evenly and avoid any flour clumps, add some broth, stir, add broth, stir, add broth, stir, etc… until you have added the whole quart of chicken broth.
For my purposes, I buy broth and make my own stock. Broth is a more-flavorful-than-adding-water-and-sorta-tastes-like-chicken product from the store and stock is a super-flavorful-liquid-that-is-basically-liquid-chicken-flavor produced from an afternoon of adding love to a vat of boiling chicken bones.
AKA I use store bought broth in this recipe because I want something more than water but I still want my soup to have the Potatoes and Bacon be the King and Queen flavors. If you have fresh broth or smaller packages of broth frozen, I imagine you can also thin 2 cups of a really robust chicken stock with 2 cups water.
Again, Bacon is a star flavor in my potato soup. I really cannot accurately describe how much it adds. It is almost like an undefinable umami flavor, that something extra, adding more body and depth to the overall soup.
Always wait to add salt until you have added the bacon. Bacon is naturally salty and thusly does much of that work for you.
Also–if you are using any bacon OTHER than a peppered bacon, you might want to add about 1/2 teaspoon of pepper (white pepper works well here if you have it on hand). Using peppered bacon and adding additional pepper will make your soup taste like a cream of black pepper.
Our last primary ingredient! I basically always add the milk/cream to a hot soup as the last ingredient because I want to avoid the potential for the milk to separate in the final soup. Too much heat does something to change the formula that makes the emulsion that is a dairy milk, just the same as too much agitation turns cream into butter.
Lets load up a bowl now!
I choose to top my already flavorful soup with some of my favorite toppings! My three favorites are cheddar cheese, green onions, and oyster crackers. Sometimes I use one, or two, or all three toppings!
Please let me know in the comments below if you have any other favorite potato soup toppings and submit your email for automatic updates of new recipes 🙂
Potato Bacon Soup
- Russet Potatoes, 3 Pounds
- 1 Onion, about 8 ounces rough chop
- Celery, about 8 ounces rough chop
- Carrots, about 8 ounces rough chop
- 12 ounces package Bacon, cooked
- Bacon Fat from cooked Bacon
- 1 cup of 2% milk
- 1 Quart of Chicken Broth (store bought or thin 2 Cups rich chicken stock with 2 Cups water)
- 1/2 cup flour
- Soup Toppers (Optional) Cheddar Cheese/Green Onions/Oyster Crackers
- Bake the bacon at 350 degrees until crispy and fat is rendered. Reserve the bacon fat for later use
- Wash/Peel/Chop all veggies: Onion, Celery, Carrots, and Potatoes. Do this while bacon is baking
- Chop baked bacon, set aside
- Pour bacon fat into soup pot. Add all veggies, stir well
- Soften/sweat veggies on medium heat. Goal=soft cooked veggies, not browned or crisped
- Add flour and incorporate well when veggies start getting a little mushy on the corners–see pictures above for more clarity on what this looks like
- Slowly add chicken broth. Add some broth, stir, add broth, stir, add broth, stir, etc… this helps reduce possibility of clumps of flour in soup. May take a few minutes cooking to thicken.
- Add bacon! Stir again.
- Taste for Salt and Pepper needs. If using peppered bacon, DO NOT add more pepper.
- Add 1 Cup Milk just before serving
- Dish up and add any or all optional soup toppers and ENJOY!!!