Food, Recipes

Bennigan’s Style Ultimate Baked Potato Soup

As soon as the cooler weather rolls around, I start to crave all of the fall foods. In particular, chili (which we will get to later) and this recipe for the Ultimate Baked Potato Soup.

Recently, I had a comment pop up asking for recipe ideas for a Dutch Oven. This one piece of equipment is an absolute kitchen staple in my book, and a perfect vessel for soups, stews and frying. I use mine for just about everything and anything.

The enamel coating is perfect for all kinds of cooking, as it is naturally non-stick. That said, I cook with a lot of butter whenever I use mine, so I suppose that helps it to be more resistant to sticking. Plus, they deglaze like a champion once you add a little liquid to them, leaving you with those flavorful brown bits in soups and stews that build flavor.

If you have a Dutch Oven, or have been gifted one and aren’t sure what to do with it, the sky is the limit. Any soup recipe, stew, sauce…use this vessel for building your recipes and allowing them to develop with even heat. The cast iron holds and conducts heat steadily and beautifully for slow simmering. Once you are done prepping, you can just about set it and forget it on a low heat.

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I will admit that due to the heft of the pot, it seemed a bit intimidating to use at first, but once you get started with one, you won’t want to stop. I just received a 15-inch cast iron skillet for my birthday this month, which is slightly intimidating as well, so I get the feeling. That said, I can’t wait to dive in to test and share recipes for that guy too!

I will admit that I am a lover of just about any and all soups, but none reign supreme more than a good, hearty baked potato soup, in my book. As a child of the ’80’s, I grew up going to dinner at the one and only Bennigan’s. I think that anyone that grew up in the ’80’s and ’90’s in the northeast remembers eating at least one meal at this chain restaurant.

Bennigan’s has since vanished from the eastern region of the US, and through a search I have found that this chain does still exist. After a refreshing rebranding, this chain now only exists in the Midwest and Southwest portions of the continent, as well as having a strong presence abroad, interestingly enough. I will point out that they do still serve this soup, because they know a good thing when they’ve got it.

I have since moved on from chain restaurants and evolved my palate, but there is always that one food that haunts you from your younger days and sparks a craving now and again, deep in the recesses of your brain. This is that recipe for me.

Bennigan’s had THE potato soup back in the day. Embarrassingly enough, I recall going to the location near my college campus during my freshman year at the University of Delaware on a cold, rainy winter day in the late ’90’s. I was with one of my best friends and ordered two bowls in one sitting. If you remember how thick this soup was, you will understand that this was a bit excessive to say the least, but it is that much of a comfort to me!

So, needless to say, when the mood struck recently, I was left with no choice other than to book a flight out to middle America, or find my own version of the soup to make at home. I thought the latter would be a bit more reasonable and economical. After testing and trying many versions, combining little nuances from each, I have come up with this recipe that is pretty darned close.

I will forewarn you that this recipe makes enough for a small army, and because of the chunks of potato, it doesn’t freeze as well as I would like, so this is a fantastic recipe for company. You can whip it up in the morning and let it simmer on the stove so that your guests can revisit the soup well as many times as they like, with plenty to spare.

It only calls for a few ingredients, and is a perfect pot for a game day get together, now that football season is back in full swing. I like to use the carrots and celery for extra flavor and nutrients, as it makes for a more rounded recipe, but if you don’t like the flavors of these veggies, you can omit and follow the same recipe.

Be sure you have lots of cheddar cheese and green onion on hand for topping, and maybe a little extra crunchy crumbled bacon if you are feeling sassy. Serve with a big old loaf of crusty sourdough (more on that to come) and make it a party. Enjoy!


Bennigan’s Ultimate Baked Potato Soup

Kristen
The ultimate creamy baked potato soup with hearty pieces of potato, salty bits of bacon, the gooey stretch of cheddar cheese and the crunch of diced green onions. This is a copycat recipe of my favorite potato soup of all time from Bennigan's restaurants.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Simmer Time 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12 people

Equipment

  • Large Dutch Oven
  • Long Handled Wooden Spoon (metal scratches enamel coating in Dutch Oven)
  • Immersion Blender optional

Ingredients
  

  • 6 full strips bacon, uncooked, diced
  • 3 Tbsp butter salted or unsalted
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced roughly 1½ cups
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 large celery stalks, diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • lbs gold or russet potatoes, peeled and diced to 1-inch pieces roughly 5-6 large potatoes
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • cups 2% milk
  • cup heavy cream optional – makes a richer soup
  • 1 cup sour cream to room temperature
  • tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • additional shredded cheddar, cheese, green onions, bacon crumbles, sour cream for toppings

Instructions
 

  • Place diced bacon pieces into the Dutch Oven over medium heat and cook until the bacon becomes browned and crispy.
  • Once cooked, remove the bacon pieces from the pot and set them aside. Leave the fat in the pot for flavor and fat for the soup.
  • Add in butter and chopped onion, carrots, celery, cooked bacon pieces and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are softened and tender. This should take about 5-6 minutes. (If you leave carrots and celery out, the softening process for the onions should only take 2-3 minutes).
  • Add in minced garlic, stirring into vegetable mixture. Cook very slightly, just until the garlic becomes fragrant (about 30 seconds), being careful not to burn (as that creates a bitter taste).
  • Add flour and stir for 2-3 minutes, until flour is fully absorbed into mixture.
  • Add chicken broth, milk and heavy cream and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil then add in diced potatoes. Reduce to a rolling simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Reduce to a simmer.
  • This is an optional step, but for an extra creamy texture, remove half of the soup and place in a separate bowl. Puree the remaining soup in the Dutch Oven and return the other half back to the pot and stir together. If you prefer a chunky soup like me, skip this step all together!
  • Add in sour cream and cheddar cheese and stir until both are fully incorporated and melted into the soup. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Serve in bowls with a slice of sourdough bread. Add cheddar cheese, green onion, bacon or sour cream as topping for extra flavor and flair. Enjoy!
Keyword Baked Potato Soup, Soup, Ultimate Baked Potato Soup