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Virginia Willis' Baked Potato Soup

Serves: Makes 2 generous quarts
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2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups homemade chicken stock or low-fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 cups 2-percent milk
4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
Chopped scallions, for serving
Bacon bits, for serving
Sour cream, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving


In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the stock, followed by the milk. Add the potatoes, increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the cheese, a little at a time, stirring until melted and smooth after each addition. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Purée the soup with an immersion blender. Leave it coarse for a more rustic soup, or purée it until smooth for a more elegant result.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Serve with the toppings on the side.

Photo Credit: Virginia Willis

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