Sunday, April 12, 2015

Recipe: Cilantro Bacon Potato Soup

cilantro bacon potato soup
Looking for a way to use up some cilantro, I stumbled across Karena's Absolutely Ultimate Potato Soup on With a name like that, and over 1200 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 / 5 stars, I felt compelled to give it a try. I envisioned a thick cosy winter dinner type soup -- and it turned out to be just that (with, lest we forget, bacon!). Here is the recipe, in case you'd also like to give it a try (please excuse the blurry photos...I haven't figured out how to deal with poor lighting over my stove + steam!).

The ingredients, slightly modified from
  • half of a 375-g package of bacon (~6 strips) (or more)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 stalks celery (can include leaves) (diced)
  • 8 potatoes (no need to peel; cubed)
  • 5 cups water (or enough to cover potatoes)
  • 1 pkg onion soup mix
  • ~2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon (omitted as I didn't have any)
  • 3 tsp fresh cilantro (chopped) (or more; I used ~1/2 cup leaves & all stems from a bunch)
potato soup ingredients
In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon and set it aside. Drain off 3/4 of the bacon grease, leaving 1/4 in the pot.
frying bacon

fried bacon
Cook the onion, garlic, and celery in the bacon oil over low heat until they are translucent (~5 min).
cilantro bacon potato soup
Add the cubed potatoes, stir, and let cook for ~5 min.
chopped potatoes
cilantro bacon potato soup
Add ~5 cups of water (to cover the potatoes) and onion soup mix.
no name onion soup mix
cilantro bacon potato soup
If you'd like, you can also add the chopped cilantro stems at this time (so as not to let them go to waste!). Any leftover cilantro can be frozen in an ice-cube tray.
cilantro stems
cilantro bacon potato soup
Simmer until the potatoes are very soft, then use a potato masher to partially mash them (at this point the potatoes are practically falling apart, so there's no need for an immersion blender).

In a small pot, melt the butter over medium heat, then add in the flour, milk, and chopped cilantro. Cook, stirring constantly, for ~2 min until the sauce boils and thickens.
cilantro sauce

chopped cilantro
cilantro sauce
creamy cilantro sauce
Stir the sauce into the potato mixture. Chop up the cooked bacon and stir it in.
real bacon bits
cilantro bacon potato soup
Continue to simmer the soup for a few more minutes to permit the flavours to mix.
cilantro bacon potato soup
Then scoop out a bowl and enjoy! This soup is thick, creamy, and satisfying. The cilantro and bacon flavours are subtle, but definitely noticeable. I think the bacon could be replaced by sausage or ham without compromising the flavour.
cilantro bacon potato soup
Overall, this is a good make-a-big-pot-on-Sunday-for-the-rest-of-the-week soup recipe that I'll be coming back to whenever I have a 10-lb bag of russets lying around and a bunch of cilantro on hand!

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