Standing and surveying the contents of my fridge today I noticed my P.S. had bought 2 large chicken breasts and a small wedge of smoked gouda. I think the gouda was the result of my comment a few weeks ago that the cauliflower gouda soup was excellent and would have been even better if the gouda had been smoked. The chicken breasts were the rest of the breasts he bought to make our panzanella salads a few days ago.
But I wasn’t in the mood for cauliflower soup again so soon and didn’t have cauliflower in my fridge anyway. I definitely didn’t want to go anywhere for groceries in the latest snow storm raging outside my windows. (Winter continues up North). So, Google to the rescue again! I had searched earlier for a curried dish with chicken but adding gouda to the mix would have been odd. Scratch curry, enter gouda. I found a recipe by Mary Ellen’s Cooking Creations that was similar to what I was imagining and was ready to cook. Soup for a snow day! Perfect.
I’d watched The Chew today and their theme was ‘one pot meals’. I decided that was a good theme for my soup. Plus any recipe that starts with frying bacon has got to be good. As the diced bacon sizzled away in my stock pot I scrubbed the potatoes. I even happened to have about 2# of smaller yukon gold potatoes on hand so I was pleased that they were what she used in the recipe. I like to leave the skins on whenever possible and after washing I cubed them and set them aside.
Onions and sweet red bell peppers diced and ready, I put them into the pot after the bacon pieces were beginning to brown. I sauteed them for about 10 more minutes then added a cup of water so I could scrape the caramelized brown bits that were stuck all over the bottom of the pot. Yummy bits of goodness that add so much flavor to the dish!
Next I increased the heat and added the diced chicken. Chicken wasn’t in the original recipe but I had those breasts to use and it seemed like a good addition. I let the chicken sizzle away for about 5 minutes before adding the chicken broth, potatoes and spices. I let the pot bubble on medium heat until the potatoes were just barely fork tender, about 20 minutes.
I didn’t want to puree the soup completely; I just stuck my immersion blender in the pot and let it blend maybe 15 seconds. That was just enough to thicken the broth. I wanted a few random chunks of potato and chicken to survive. Then I added the sherry and 2 cups of milk. I stirred it and let it return to a slow bubble before I added the shredded gouda. I stirred the gouda into the soup until the pot was fully heated again and ready to serve.
This soup is a very rich, smoky, creamy delight on your tongue. The chicken gives you something to chew on, as well as the potato pieces that remained. I liked the flavor with the sherry but it would be great even without it. A touch of rice vinegar or a white wine vinegar is necessary for that “pop” of acid. Then you have a full contrast of flavors in each smoky spoonful.
We almost licked our bowls clean; the soup was that good. It was a filling soup eaten with just crackers. I didn’t notice the bacon flavor so much but my P.S. said he had. Then he said maybe he just remembered the smell of my frying bacon that had drawn him up from his basement batcave to sniff in appreciation. The flavors melded so well it as a good blend of all the ingredients. I suspect this soup will be even better the next day; I can’t wait for lunch tomorrow!
Chicken Potato Smoked Gouda Soup
6-8 strips bacon; diced
1 onion; diced
1 cup sweet red bell peppers; diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup dry sherry or 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
3-4 cups yukon gold potatoes, cubed- I left the skins on
1 teaspoon garlic powder
6 cups chicken broth
3-4 cups diced chicken
1 1/2 cups half and half; I used 2 cups of milk
2 oz. smoked gouda; shredded
In a stockpot or dutch oven, cook the bacon until it begins to brown. Add onions and red peppers and cook another 10 minutes or until they also begin to brown. Add a cup of the broth and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pot.
Increase the heat and add the diced chicken. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring often. Add the broth, sherry or vinegar, bay leaf, thyme, garlic and potato chunks. Bring to a light boil and simmer until potatoes are just fork tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup for 30 seconds or as much as you want to creates both texture and thickness to the soup.
Return the pureed soup to the stove. Add the sherry and cream or milk. Simmer until the soup has heated through and is bubbling again. Add the cheese and stir until it has melted.
Serve hot. Makes 6 servings
adapted from Mary Ellen’s Cooking Creations