Loaded Baked Potato Soup

This stick-to-your-ribs chowder is so good on a chilly evening, freezes well and is a total kid-pleaser. Feel free to spice this recipe up with a bit of minced jalapeño, if you like. This recipe makes 6-8 servings.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 35 minutes

4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
8 slices bacon, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup half and half
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup sour cream
Minced fresh chives, for garnish

Pierce the potatoes multiple times with a fork, then microwave them for 12 to 15 minutes, or until fork-tender. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skins, and cut into chunks.

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. Once cooled, crumble the bacon into small pieces.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Add the flour and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and half-and-half. Keep whisking until smooth. Gradually add the chicken stock. Bring to a light simmer and add the salt and pepper. Keep at a light simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in cheese, potato pieces, bacon and sour cream and heat through. Garnish with chives and serve warm.