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     Ahh, do you all feel that?  Autumn has arrived, and—here in the Ozarks, at least—we're enjoying daytime temperatures in the mid-seventies and evenings are beginning to have a delightful crispness to the air.  The humidity is lower, the days are shorter, and the trees are about to show us their stuff one last time until Spring.  I just love this time of year.  Although the cooler weather is a blessing and the fall foliage is a wonder to behold, this aren’t the only reasons I love fall so much.  Soup… soup is why I love fall so much.  Every year, I wait until the mercury (and humidity) drop, signaling me that it’s—once again—time for warm, comforting, budget-stretching soups and stews.  There’s just something about a big pot of soup that makes my insides smile.  You can take a handful of humble ingredients and, spending little time, effort, or money, have a hearty meal that can feed the family for a few days; even longer if you freeze some for later.  This potato soup is the perfect example: I spent under $12.00 and I’ve got about 4 quarts of creamy, dreamy potato soup that’s a hit with everyone who tries it. 

     Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ½ lb. bacon, diced and cooked until crispy (or cooked and then crumbled)
  • 5 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, unpeeled, or partially peeled, depending on your preference, and diced
  • 1 medium carrot (about ¾ cup), diced
  • 1 yellow onion (about 2 cups), diced
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 c. chicken stock
  • 2 t. cornstarch dissolved in ¼ c. water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ t. celery seed (optional)

     Cook the bacon in a large dutch oven until crispy.  Remove the bacon from the pan and pour out all but about a tablespoon of fat (save it in a jar for later). 

     Sauté the onions and carrot in the bacon fat over medium heat until tender. 

     While the onions and carrot are cooking, mix together the cream cheese and broth with a whisk to get put as many lumps as possible.

     When the onions are soft, add the potatoes, carrots, and broth mixture.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Once simmering, turn the heat to low, add the cornstarch slurry, bacon, salt and pepper, to taste (and celery seed, if using), and continue simmering until the potatoes are tender.

     Serve immediately or let sit on the stove, covered with the burner off, for an 20-30 minutes to let the flavors meld. 

     Store leftovers in the fridge.  This soup, as all soups, is even better the next day.

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