Many years ago, my husband and I would make a special trip to an area buffet-type restaurant just to get a bowl of its potato soup. This is one recipe I should never have tried to duplicate, because when I did, my husband seemed to always want me to make the soup, and our trips to the restaurant became less frequent.
Now, after all these years, I am still making potato soup — but in many different flavors. I like to add my own touch, and that usually means looking into the kitchen pantry or refrigerator and using whatever I can find there.
Recently, when I included my Ranch Potato Soup on the menu for a cooking class, it was a big hit. Some thought it was one of the best potato soups they had ever eaten, and planned to make it the next day for their family. The fact that it’s quite simple to make is a bonus. It is amazing what a flavor boost the bottled ranch dressing adds.
If you have leftover baked potatoes, you can use them in my Stuffed Potato Soup. A mixture of sour cream and Hidden Valley Harvest Dill Dip Mix adds a special flavor that makes you want another bowl. I don’t usually peel the baked potatoes for this soup.
Both of these recipes are easy to adapt to your personal preferences. Just take a quick inventory of what you have on hand, and start working on your own new versions.
Ranch Potato Soup
3 cups peeled and chopped potatoes (I used Yukon Gold potatoes)
½ cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
½ cup butter
1 cup milk
¾ cup bottled ranch dressing
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Combine potatoes, onions, celery, water, salt, black pepper and butter in soup pot. Cook until potatoes are fork tender. Combine milk and ranch dressing. Whisk until mixed, and then add to the pot. Stir in cheddar. Cook until soup begins to thicken. If it doesn’t thicken enough, you can add more cheddar, or thicken with a mixture of milk and flour.
NOTE: For a richer soup, substitute half-and-half for the milk.
Stuffed Potato Soup
½ cup uncooked bacon, diced
½ cup chopped onion
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
¼ cup butter
2 large baked potatoes, unpeeled, cubed (about 2½ to 3 cups)
1 cup half-and-half
2 cups shredded colby-jack cheese (or cheese of choice)
½ cup sour cream
½ tablespoon Hidden Valley Harvest Dill Dip Mix
In a soup pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onions to the bacon drippings and cook until tender but not browned. Add chicken broth to pot along with reserved bacon pieces, butter and potatoes. (The potatoes should already be cooked, but might need a little more cooking to be “fork tender.”) Stir in half-and-half and cheese. Cook until cheese melts. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and dip mix. Mix well and stir into pot. Do not allow to boil after the sour cream mixture has been added.