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Loaded baked potato soup is the simple, luscious bowl of comfort I crave in colder months

Loaded Baked Potato Soup.

I am not crazy for soup like some people. They could eat it every day, long for it and rave about the latest soup recipe they’ve discovered. For me, other than gumbo, which I’ll eat any day, any time, soup is a seasonal thing, an occasional dish, and the occasion is usually because it’s cold outside.

When the temperature dips and I cannot seem to warm my toes, the one thing that usually takes the chill off is a bowl of hot soup. If there is no gumbo tucked away in the freezer that I can thaw, I’m apt to slurp a bowl of wonton soup or a dig into some variation of chicken soup with rice or noodles.

Or, if I’m making it myself on a weeknight, I’ll conjure potato soup, because it is so easy and luscious. A loaded baked potato soup is one of my favorites. This one-pot version, which I adapted from Eating Well – because it’s January and so, of course, I am thinking about eating healthier – comes together in about 40 minutes.

It’s simple. You fry a couple of slices of bacon. Set that aside. Then fry a little onion and garlic in the bacon fat. Next, dice the potatoes and add them and broth to the pot, then simmer until tender.

You can make a chunky soup by removing and mashing half of the potatoes and then returning them to the pot. Or, if you prefer a smooth soup, use an immersion blender to puree the potatoes in the pan; or, transfer the potato mixture, in batches, if necessary, to a blender and puree.

To add creaminess, stir in a little sour cream and cheese.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top it with crumbled bacon, more grated cheese and a sprinkling of chives or scallions.

I used reduced fat sour cream and found it hit the mark. I also used no-salt broth. You may want to add 1/4 teaspoon of salt after tasting, but remember, you are going to crumble bacon on top, so maybe hold off until after that first taste. Also, this recipe only calls for a half-cup of cheese, which didn’t seem like enough to me, but I found it plenty cheesy, because you sprinkle a little on top of each bowl just before serving and get melty bites as you dig in.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 4 (about 6½ cups)

We love a loaded baked potato with bacon, cheddar, sour cream and chives. We like it even more as a soup. Use full-fat dairy, if you like, but we made it with reduced-fat sour cream and no-salt broth for a slightly healthier take.To make a vegetarian version of this soup, omit the bacon or use mushroom bacon (see related recipe) and swap in a vegetable broth.

Storage Notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

INGREDIENTS:1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil2 slices bacon½ cup (2 ounces) chopped white or yellow onion2 large garlic cloves, minced or grated, about 1 tablespoon1½ pounds russet potatoes (2 to 3 medium), peeled and diced4 cups no-salt chicken or vegetable low-sodium chicken broth½ cup reduced-fat sour cream½ cup (2¼ ounces) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste¼ cup snipped fresh chives or finely chopped scallion greens, for serving¼ teaspoon ground white pepper¼ teaspoon kosher salt (optional)Method:Set a paper towel-lined plate or a rack near the stove. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the bacon and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared plate to drain, leaving the oil and bacon drippings in the pan.

Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer about half the potatoes to a bowl and mash until almost smooth but still a little chunky. Return the potatoes to the pan along with the sour cream, ¼ cup (about 1 ounce) of the cheese and the pepper.

Cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted and the soup is heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with crumbled bacon, the remaining cheese and the chives or scallion greens, and serve.

Nutrition: Calories: 449; Total Fat: 29 g; Saturated Fat: 7 g; Cholesterol: 54 mg; Sodium: 316 mg; Carbohydrates: 34 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 2 g; Protein: 15 g.

Source: Adapted from Eatingwell.com.