FRONT BURNER: Savor soothing, decadent potato soup

Posted: November 8, 2017 at 1:51 a.m.

Cheesy potato soup

I've been eating a lot of potato soup this fall.

It's quick. It's ­satisfying. And so versatile. Whenever I'm feeling a little under the weather, potato soup is one of my go-to meals as my mother would often make it for me when I was sick. My mother-in-law did the same for my husband.

And unlike most childhood salves, it is just as soothing today as it was then.

I rarely follow a recipe when I make potato soup. Instead I let whatever ingredients I have on hand guide me. Most of the time I start with fresh potatoes. And I almost always add a bit of onion. Sometimes I'll add a carrot and some celery. Sometimes I keep the potato cubes whole and other times I whirl the whole thing to a velvety puree. Sometimes I use leftover mashed potatoes for the base. Sometimes I'll do a blend of white and sweet potatoes. And in a pinch, I might even make it from instant potato flakes.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in Food Network magazine.

The original version had a whopping 840 calories per serving as well as 50 fat grams and 1500 milligrams (about a day's worth) of sodium.

To cut down on the excess I reduced the cheese, tater tots and sour cream and opted to skip the bacon.

My version is still richly indulgent, but with a slightly leaner profile: about 500 calories, 30 grams of fat and 1000 milligrams sodium.

Cheesy Potato Soup

12 ounces frozen tater tots

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound gold potatoes, diced

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

4 teaspoons reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable bouillon base such as Better Than Bouillon brand

4 cups water

6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, divided use

¼ cup sour cream

Instant potato flakes, as needed

Fresh snipped chives or green onions, for garnish

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Arrange tater tots on a baking sheet and bake until browned and crisp, about 20 minutes or according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the potatoes, bouillon base, water and season with about ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Working in batches or using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Set aside about ½ cup of the cheese. Return soup to pot (if necessary) and stir in the remaining cheese and all of the sour cream, stirring until melted. If soup is too thin, stir in a couple of tablespoons instant potato flakes. Season to taste with black pepper.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with tater tots, the remaining shredded cheese and a sprinkle of chives or green onion.

Makes 4 servings.

Food on 11/08/2017