Creamy Clean Eating Baked Potato Soup
So the cold weather is here, and therefore so is soup and hot chocolate season! It's been snowing outside for a month now here in Colorado. My sons have been having a blast playing in the snow and building snowmen. We lucked out after the first snow, and our favorite children's clothing thrift store had a magnificent sale on all snow clothes.
I purchased articles of clothing for both of my kids that I didn't even know existed. I bought insulated overalls, snow boots, large insulated jackets, and even a full-body insulated onesie for my youngest. But they have all been well used already many times, and my toddler is getting really good at pulling them on and pulling them back off so he can go out into the snow and play when he desires.
With all of the snow, it's been downright chilly in the house every day. So the last couple of months have been a marathon in soups, especially as my husband works outside all day long. When he walks in the door, he wants something hot and yummy. Unfortunately, my husband and oldest son are super picky about their soups. All I have to do is mention veggies—and they typically stay far, far away.
But I made this soup last week for my husband one night, and he was in love. Even better, so was my four-year-old son! I figured with bacon as one of the ingredients I couldn't possibly go wrong. But I make sure to buy our bacon nitrate-free so we don't have to worry about all of the crazy chemicals in it. He and my son strongly requested that I make it again. It really turned out amazing. Let me show you how I did it!
- 2 packages nitrate-free bacon
- 5 lbs baking potatoes
- 1 bunch (8 stalks) chives
- 4 cups chicken broth, homemade preferred
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Start by cooking your bacon. I cook mine in two large pans on the stove over medium heat, one package of bacon per pan.
- I simply pile all of it in the pan together at the same time. If it doesn't seem to be cooking fast enough, or have enough grease to cook the bacon, I add a bit of coconut oil.
- When it's all crispy and no longer soft, I pull it all out and lay the cooked bacon on a plate covered with a paper towel to cool.
- Pour the bacon grease straight into your crockpot. This is safe for your crockpot and your health, I promise. I explain below. For the bits of bacon left behind in your pan, pour a little of your chicken broth into the pan and simply scrape the bits right off. This is called de-glazing. Pour this into your crockpot as well.
- Now, on the side, wash and chop all of your potatoes, leaving the nutritious skins on, and scrape them into your crockpot with the bacon grease.
- Chop all of your chives and scrape these into your crockpot along with all of your cooked bacon crumbled.
- Finally, add all of your chicken broth. Add more than the recipe calls for if you need more to cover your potatoes. After all, this is a soup.
- Cover your crockpot and cook on high for 4-5 hours.
- When finished, use a potato masher to mash all of your potatoes in the crockpot.
- Then add your cream cheese and shredded cheese straight into the pot. Stir until it has all melted.
- When serving, offer more crumbled bacon, shredded cheese and chives for a topping.
|Serving size: 1|
|Calories from Fat||135|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 15 g||23%|
|Saturated fat 6 g||30%|
|Carbohydrates 37 g||12%|
|Sugar 2 g|
|Fiber 3 g||12%|
|Protein 14 g||28%|
|Cholesterol 29 mg||10%|
|Sodium 120 mg||5%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
The Good and the Bad of Bacon
Don't get worried about the fact that I poured our bacon grease into the soup. Bacon is saturated fat and therefore is very good for you. Your body needs saturated fat to function. In fact, research has shown that when women diet, those eating the greatest percentage of the total fat in their diets as saturated fat, lose the most weight. Saturated fat actually lowers your risk for heart disease, plays a key role in keeping your immune system strong, and has been shown to protect your liver from alcohol and medications, including acetaminophen and other drugs commonly used for pain and arthritis.
Saturated fat is essentially a fat that is solid when stored at room temperature. Some of these include real animal products, like butter, cheese, meat, heavy cream, eggs, ice cream, and full fat milk. Certain vegetable products also contain high level of saturated fats as well, like coconut oil, palm kernel oil, olive oil, avocados, and nuts, which is why they are so good for you.
As we are a clean eating household, I also make sure to purchase nitrate-free pork products for our meals. When pork is processed right, it can be very good for you in moderate portions. However, most of the pork (ham, bacon, pork chops, lunch meat, etc) products on the market are processed with heavy chemicals called nitrates that can do a lot of damage to your body.
Sodium nitrate, a preservative that's used in most processed meats, has been known to increase your heart disease risk. It's also known that sodium nitrate can damage your blood vessels, making your arteries more likely to harden and narrow, leading to heart disease. Nitrates also affect the way your body uses sugar, making you more likely to develop diabetes.
Thankfully stores like Wal-Mart, Safeway, and Sprouts offer many nitrate-free pork products for those people that want to avoid it in their foods.
The next time we decided to make this wonderfully creamy, filling soup, our family had come into town for Thanksgiving and we were all going to the zoo together for the day. I was going to have 12 people to feed for dinner and wasn't going to be there the entire day to make anything. So my husband suggested that I make my delicious baked potato soup again for everyone.
I cooked the bacon the night before and stored everything in the fridge overnight. Then we chopped and added everything to the crockpot the next morning. Due to the sheer number of people, we added a few more large potatoes, another 4oz of cream cheese and another half a cup of shredded cheese. Let's just say that my crockpot was burgeoning with soup. I served it with a salad and a big pot of hot chocolate because we were all chilled to the bone from the zoo that day.
It was a smash. Everyone loved it and even went back for a second helping. Thank goodness for the salad and hot chocolate or I may not have had enough for everyone. Whether you are cooking for two or for a whole crowd of people, this soup is just perfect for a nice hot meal at the end of a chilly day. Even after eating it twice now, I find writing this article, that I'm still craving it again for lunch. I guess I'll have to go make some more. Enjoy!
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© 2018 Victoria Van Ness