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Hearty Potato Chowder, this wonderful soup is perhaps just a bit healthier than some of the “Loaded Baked Potato Soup” recipes out there. More like a Cream of Potato Soup, think this soup as the smarter, plainer sister – you know who I mean, the one who is a bit subtler; the one who relies on common sense, not just “flash!”

Hearty Potato Chowder

Hearty Potato Chowder

Hearty Potato Chowder lets the flavor of the potato shine through – the simple recipe uses basic pantry ingredients, comes together quickly and has no cheese, cream or sour cream for added fat (or cost.) Made with a good chicken stock, I think it rivals any soup out there, and made with a boxed stock, it’s still wonderful.

Of course a little cheese and or sour cream in the garnish never hurt anyone – and if you’d like to richen it with a heavier dairy product, that’s your prerogative. Perfect on crisp fall or cold winter day, and ready in about 25 minutes, Hearty Potato chowder does rely on the bacon for richness and flavor, part of what puts it a notch above any regular old Cream of Potato Soups.

I think about this recipe when milk and/or potatoes are on sale, although it’s always inexpensive, and you may wish to double the recipe, depending on your eaters or if you’d like to have left overs. Think about serving this with a good bread (like Crusty Bread) and a dark green or spinach salad…

Hearty Potato Chowder,  serves 4, but don’t count on left overs

  • 2 slices of bacon, diced
  • 3 T chopped onion
  • 5 or six medium potatoes (about 1 3/4 lb) diced in 1/2″ dice
  • 2 medium carrots, diced finely
  • 2 1/4 cups water or chicken broth (I measure my chicken broth and add water to make 2 1/4 cups)
  • 4 cups 2 percent milk
  • 1 t salt – you may not need the salt, it depends on the chicken broth, so taste.
  • Garnish as you desire with green onion or chives, grated cheese or sour cream.

In a large saucepan, cook bacon until just crisp, remove, crumble and reserve. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat and saute onion and carrots in the remainder. Add a little butter if mixture becomes too dry or there is not enough bacon fat to amount to three tablespoons.

Add potatoes and water and/or stock, bring to a boil, partially cover with a lid, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add milk and warm through, but do not boil. Taste and add salt if needed.

Remove 2 cups of the mixture and blend, then add back to the pan, or use a hand masher and roughly mash a bit of the potatoes until it reaches the consistency you desire. The soup will thicken slightly when its not piping hot.

Garnish with the reserved bacon. Garnish additionally as you desire with cheese, chives or green onion, and/or sour cream.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied:

  • Consider doubling this soup – it’s so inexpensive and besides, you may want left overs – wonderful for a lunch later in the week or another meal. In my opinion, this does not freeze well.
  • Bacon: Used to be an inexpensive ingredient, its price has risen with its popularity. Let’s face it, bacon isn’t the healthiest – we seldom use it here on its own as a meat, but do use it in small amounts in recipes, where I consider it as a “flavoring” rather than a protein. I buy on store specials and take advantage of coupons – my go to price is between $2.00 and $3.00 a package. I freeze until needed, partially thaw (until a knife will go through) and cut across the bacon from top to bottom. 1/16th is the same size as a strip. I wrap the bacon back up and freeze again.
  • If we’re making something like a BLT, I’ll think about cooking a bit extra for something like this recipe. Cost for the bacon for this soup, $2.89 for the last pound bought, 2 slices are 36 cents.
  • Carrots: An inexpensive item even not on sale – but it keeps so well I buy a couple of packages if it is cheaper. $1.00 a pound is standard in our area, but the larger packages of 5 pounds are often on sale for $2.50 – that’s 50 cents a pound, or about 10 cents for two. Carrots will keep longer if you rotate the package, which is so often on the bottom of the drawer, so they don’t sit in condensation.
  • Onion:  They keep well, so try to buy on sale. Aldi’s is a good place to find reasonably priced onions. Always less expensive in the fall/winter months, the pricing in my area runs from 33 to 66 cents a pound. Store them in a dark, cool place but not near potatoes. If you’ve bought too many onions, don’t let them go bad.
  • Slice or dice them, saute and portion into ziplocs labeled “onions” and freeze. You’ve just saved yourself a step for next time you make a dish. If you have enough, consider making French Onion Soup. If you use half an onion, consider if you can sauté the rest and put it in a Ziploc in the freezer. If not store in the door where you’ll see it when you’re cooking next. 3 tablespoons (at 56 cents a pound) about 4 cents.
  • Chicken Stock:  If you read me regularly, I make my own with scraps of vegetables and bones – here’s the basic recipe I use for Best Turkey or Chicken Stock - it’s not particular and though it simmers for a long time, the burner is barely on – I just count it as free.
  • Milk:  About $2.50 a gallon in my area on sale, the cost for this recipe runs about 18 cents. Buy on sale – unopened it keeps a bit past it’s “sale by” date – then you can pick up one for the beginning of the week, and another at the end of the week for the week following.
  • Be careful with your milk, and even opened it will last a lot longer – pour, lid and put away, don’t bring it to the table or leave it on the counter while you eat dinner or down your cereal and you’ll notice it stay fresh last MUCH longer. We’ve cut way back on dairy, as most health experts suggest – putting it away helps with that, too. Cost for 2 cups, about 32 cents.
  • Garnishes: The Bacon is already included in the price, but as shown, with a bit of cheese and green onion, expect to add about 20 cents for an ounce of cheese, if bought on sale (I pay about a dollar or less for 8 ounces of grocery store cheese with coupons, sales and Catalinas.) Green onions I buy on sale, usually during Holidays; I throw the white portions in a glass of water on a sunny sill where they’ll regenerate for months. Cost an additional 20 cents or so.

Nutrition:  Per Serving: 210 Calories; 6g Fat (27.1% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 29g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 18mg Cholesterol; 554mg Sodium

Your Own Spin: 

  • A few green onions or chives would be a welcome garnish.
  • Try a little grated cheese over each bowl.
  • Omit the bacon, and substitute ham for a different flavor.
  • Of course, you could use richer milk products:  half and half or even cream to finish the dish.

My Pay Off: A soup that is pretty much a meal on its own (simply add a muffin or a hearty piece of bread, perhaps a salad) at a cost that beats out canned, hands down.

Recipe priced originally at $1.70 in May of 2012; updated for under a dollar in February of 2014 – Even I am getting to be a better shopper as many prices have risen.

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