When it comes to winter, there’s only two ways to warm you from the inside out – bourbon and Cheesy Potato Soup. Okay, there are a few others, but right now these two are everything.
Cheesy Potato Soup
Today’s Cheesy Potato Soup is basically an elevated version of classic baked potato soup. It has all of the same notes as the traditional version – a creamy thick broth, salty bits of bacon, chunks of starchy potato, cheesy goodness and ALL the toppings. However, instead of using all classic components we’ve swapped out a few less basic ingredients.
Instead of bacon, we use salty bits of pancetta as the base. Pancetta has a slightly less smoky undertone and pairs so nicely with potatoes. Also, similar to our Creamy Leek and Potato Soup, we’ve throw in a generous amount of sweet leeks instead of classic yellow onion.
Also in the mix? Aged gouda cheese in place of sharp cheddar. I’m currently infatuated with aged gouda and you’ll find it on just about every cheese board I make. It has notes of nutty parmesan cheese but also resembles a sharp cheddar a bit. It’s definitely more pungent than a classic cheddar so we don’t use nearly as much. Which also means this Cheesy Potato Soup is slightly less indulgent than it’s loaded baked potato soup cousin.
My husband and kiddo’s don’t particularly love a pureed soup so we left this one pretty chunky, fell free to puree if you want a more luxurious soup.
Ingredients in Cheesy Potato Soup
Pancetta. As we mentioned above, pancetta is in the bacon family. However instead of being smoked and cured, it’s simply cured with salt and spices. I tend to like it a little bit better in cooking as it doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the ingredients as much.
Leek. Leek and potato are a classic combination for a reason. They’re delicious together. Leeks have a slightly mild, more sweet taste than onions and for a fancy version of Cheesy Potato Soup it’s what we like to use.
Garlic. Always garlic. We use three cloves but it you don’t like things on the the garlicky side, cut it back to one or two.
Chicken stock. Most baked potato soup recipes call for all milk but we like to lighten ours up with a little bit of chicken stock. Always be sure to use a good quality, low-sodium chicken stock. You want to be able to control the amount of salt in your dish.
Milk. We use whole milk, but you could also use heavy cream or half and half. I also like to warm the milk up before adding it to the soup so make sure it doesn’t curdle.
Flour. Because we don’t puree the soup, we need a little bit of flour to thicken it up.
Potatoes. You can honestly use any kind of potato you’d like but for this version of Cheesy Potato Soup, I like to use a buttery Yukon gold potato.
Scallion. I had originally intended to use chives here but I forgot to pick them up. Use whichever you prefer.
Cheese. While original baked potato soup calls for cheddar cheese, we’re using an aged gouda. You should be able to find it at any grocery store these days but if you can’t you can swap it out for 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup aged parmesan cheese.
Crème fraîche. Instead of using sour cream to add a little tang we went a step further with luxurious crème fraîche. This stuff is like liquid gold, next to butter.
Let’s make Cheesy Potato Soup!
Cook the pancetta. Add the pancetta to a large cold stock pot. Slowly render the fat from the pancetta over a medium to medium-hiigh heat. When the pancetta is golden brown and crisp, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to paper towels.
Sweat the leeks. If you have more than two tablespoons of fat leftover from the pancetta, drain. If you don’t have two tablespoons of fat, add enough olive oil to equal two tablespoons. Add the leeks. Turn the heat down to medium or medium low. You want the leeks to sweat, not brown. Continue to cook the leeks until they are soft and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute until fragrant.
Add flour. Stir flour in to the leek and garlic mixture. Cook for minute or so.
Simmer. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the milk. Add the potatoes and the whites of the scallion. Again bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the soup until slightly thickened and the potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Be sure to stir every few minutes so the potatoes don’t stick to the bottom.
Throw in everything else. When the soup is thick and the potatoes are cooked, turn the heat off. Add the cheese a little bit at time while stirring the soup until melted. Stir in the Crème fraîche. You could add in the pancetta and remaining green onion here or you can reserve it all for the topping. Totally up to you!
Garnish! Garnish with extra pancetta and green onion. I found the gouda to be a little too sharp to garnish with but that’s just a personal preference.
Can I make Cheesy Potato Soup in advance?
Yes! When you reheat low and slow this reheats really wonderfully. Be sure to store the garnishes separately.
What sides should I serve?
- I always love a good salad with soup, our Kale Salad, Butter Lettuce Salad and Tuscan Salad are all great options.
- We’re also obsessed with this Cheesy Garlic Bread.
- Get in the fall spirit with these Pumpkin Biscuits – sweet and savory.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- If you can’t find pancetta, you can swap out bacon.
- Use scallions or chives.
- To avoid curdling and to help the soup thicken and cook fast, heat up the milk before adding it to the soup. If your chicken stock has also been in the fridge, do the same.
- Make sure to stir the soup while it simmers. Potatoes have a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan so you want to avoid that.
- If you like a cheesier soup, you could also add in 1/2-1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese as well. I don’t recommend going much over one cup of gouda as it will overwhelm the soup.
Other Cozy Soups You’ll Love
- Italian Minestrone is another version of a classic we’ve updated. We take all of the traditional components but throw in orzo and tender chicken meatballs.
- Sweet Potato and Chicken Chili is a huge hit with just about everyone that tries it.
- So classic and fall, this Roasted Pumpkin Soup is EVERYTHING!
- 5 oz diced pancetta
- 1 large or 2 medium leeks leek, sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups room temperature low-sodium chicken stock
- 4 1/2 cups warm whole milk
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 6 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1/2-inch dice. (It should yield about 4 cups potatoes)
- 6 large scallions, sliced
- 3/4 cup shredded aged gouda
- 1/2 cup Crème fraîche
- stock pot
- Add the pancetta to a large cold stock pot. Slowly render the fat from the pancetta over a medium to medium-hiigh heat, this will take 6-8 minutes. Stir every few minutes. When the pancetta is golden and brown and crisp, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to paper towels. Be sure to carefully watch the pancetta as it can burn easily.
- While the pancetta cooks, cut off the top fiberous part of the leek as well as the bottom root. Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Thinly slice the two halves into moon shapes. Fill a medium bowl with cold water. Add the leeks. Swish them around to get rid of any excess dirt. It will fall to the bottom. Gently take the leeks out and dry them on paper towels.
- If you have more than two tablespoons of fat leftover from the pancetta, drain. If you don't have two tablespoons of fat, add enough olive oil to equal two tablespoons. Add the leeks and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Turn the heat down to medium or medium low. You want the leeks to sweat, not brown. Continue to cook the leeks until they are soft and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute until fragrant.
- Stir flour in to the leek and garlic mixture. Cook for 1 minute.
- Slowly whisk in the chicken stock, milk, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the potatoes and the whites of the scallion. Again bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the soup until slightly thickened and the potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Be sure to stir every few minutes so the potatoes don't stick to the bottom.
- When the soup is thick and the potatoes are cooked, turn the heat off. Add the cheese a little bit at time while stirring the soup until melted. Stir in the Crème fraîche. You could add 3/4 of the the pancetta and green onion here or you can reserve it all for the topping. Season to taste with plenty of salt and pepper. otally up to you!
- Garnish! Garnish with extra pancetta and green onion. I found the gouda to be a little too sharp to garnish with but that's just a personal preference.