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Baked Potato Soup

Baked potato soup has become a favorite ” from the crock-pot” meal with the rich and nourishing flavors of a baked potato loaded with all the trimmings.

The soup is quick and easy. Peeling, cutting the potatoes, and starting the crock-pot take about 20 minutes in the morning. At the end of the day, you only need ladle generous servings into bowls, liberally apply garnishes, and enjoy.

Use fat-free half-and-half, along with reduced-fat cheese and sour cream if you wish; this significantly reduces the fat content.

Makes 16 cups

Ingredients:

6 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 pounds)
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth with roasted garlic
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup whipping cream or half-and-half
1 cup (4 ounces) sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream (optional)
4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
Shredded Cheddar cheese

Method:

Combine first 6 ingredients in 5-quart slow-cooker.

* Cover and cook on HIGH 4 hours or on LOW 8 hours or until potatoes are tender.

* Mash mixture until potatoes are coarsely chopped and soup is slightly thickened.

* Stir in whipping cream, cheese, and chives.

* Top with sour cream, if desired, and sprinkle with bacon and Cheddar cheese before serving.

Add a crisp tossed salad of bagged greens in as many pretty colors and shapes as you can find. Finish with this lovely poppy seed vinaigrette:

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine:

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 tbs poppy seeds
2 tsp finely chopped red onion
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp salt.

Shake well, drizzle over greens and toss.

Complete your dinner with crispy French bread and a purchased cookie.