Over the past few years, I’ve been building my soup repetoire. I’ve got everything from mulligatawny to chicken & dumplings to albondigas in the line-up, and each fall I start seeking out new recipes to add to the list. Last year I took on seafood chowders at my husband’s request. The clam chowder was good, but the crab chowder was great! It’s now a regular in our winter rotation.

Over the weekend I was in the mood for chowder, but didn’t want to go to the store for the necessary clam juice and crab, so I just poked around in the fridge for some inspiration, and came up with Baked Potato Chowder. While this recipe probably isn’t original, it was a first for me and I really liked it.

I began with three slices of thick-cut bacon, diced and fried until well done. If you like onions (which I don’t) I’d suggest adding a fine dice of them to the bacon. I poured off about half of the bacon grease into a second, larger pan for use in a later step. Add one medium russett potato, diced with the skin on. The skin is optional, but I thought it would make the soup taste more like a baked potato. Fry for about 3 minutes before adding one can of chicken stock and one cup of water, and boil for 15 minutes. Set aside.

In the second pan, add one tablespoon of butter to the bacon grease and heat until melted and bubbly. Add one heaping tablespoon of flour to make a roux. Cook for about 5 minutes until roux begins to turn golden brown. Then add the bacon/potato/broth mixture. Simmer until the chowder begins to thicken, then add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream and continue cooking until desired thickness is reached. I also added about 1/3 cup of frozen corn at this point…not because it has anything to do with a baked potato, just because I like it. This recipe serves 2.

I served the chowder with a small handful of grated sharp cheddar, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh bacon bits. You could also add chives, which would give it some nice color. This is a perfect hearty soup for the increasingly chilly weather. If you have any other soup ideas for my repetoire, especially those involving bacon, please send them my way!