Baked Potato Soup

Baked Potato Soup
Baked Potato Soup

     Well, 2013 is in the records and 2014 is well underway. Sorry for our lack of activity lately. If you’ve been paying attention, it’s been about a month since we’ve done a post. I’m sure you’ll forgive me. Holidays can be quite a busy time and we spent quite a bit of it out of town. Almost a whole week at the ranch with no internet connection which was quite nice, truth be told.

     If you’ve noticed, we’re not one of those blogs that puts out a new recipe every day. Or a set number per week. Or even on some kind of schedule. This isn’t out job, it’s just a hobby. We’re not looking to quit our jobs and go pro. Or get paid. Or write a book. We just do it for the fun of it. And if that means we get in a slump and don’t feel like cooking, or go back and revisit old classics for a while and have nothing new post, so be it. I’m just explaining why sometimes you’ll see long breaks here between posts. More power to those who can crank out recipes on a set schedule, but for me, I’m just going to take my time and only post quality recipes that we firmly believe in. Either that we’ve tried time and time again, tweaked to get just right or sometimes lucked out and nailed on the first try. Anyhow, enough rambling on.

Nothing like a bowl of soup to warm the soul.
Nothing like a bowl of soup to warm the soul.

     There are tons of recipes out there for Baked Potato Soup, but I thought I would go ahead and share ours along with a few tricks we like to use.


  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 10-12 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 6 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Coarse Kosher salt and WHITE pepper
  • light sour cream
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Wash the potatoes and then pierce each potato a few times on each side with a fork. Rub with olive oil or canola oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Place the potatoes directly on the middle rack of the oven. Cook for about one hour or until the internal temperature has reached 200F. Remove from oven, set aside and allow to cool.
  3. Slice the bacon into lardons or thin strips. Cook the bacon in a large cast iron skillet (shouldn’t bacon always be cooked in cast iron?) or a large pot over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon but reserve the drippings. If you used a CI skillet, bonus points to you, but now you need to transfer the drippings to a large pot.
  4. Add the flour to the drippings and stir until combined, cooking for about 1 minute. While continuously whisking, slowly stir in the milk. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes until thickened while stirring occasionally.
  5. Slice open the potatoes and using a spoon, scoop out the pulp and add it to the pot. Mash the potatoes to your desired consistency. Some people like it more chunky than others, I’ll let you decide how creamy or chunky you want yours.
  6. Stir in a little over half of the bacon (leaving the rest for garnish), one cup of the cheese and season with salt and white pepper. We find that 2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of white pepper was just about right for us, but adjust to your own palette. Stir until the cheese has melted and remove from heat.
  7. Ladle the baked potato soup into bowls and garnish with the remaining bacon, cheese and chopped green onions.
Serve with warm, thick crusty bread.
Serve with warm, thick crusty bread.

     This is one pretty darn tasty baked potato soup, if I do say so myself. You have all the flavors of a baked potato. Bacon. Cheese. Green onions. Sour cream. But in a soup form. What’s not to like? I hear some people can be picky about the consistency of their baked potato soup. Some like it chunky, some like it creamy. My only advice is you are in control of that. So if you like it creamy, mash until your heart’s content. Or use an immersion blender if you have one. More in the chunky camp, don’t mash it quite as much. You control your own destiny…or at least this soup.

     I know what you are probably thinking, “What’s with all the soups and stuff lately? Where’s all the grilled or smoked food?” Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe partially because I got sick early this year and the new lab we moved into is freezing, but for some reason, I have not been able to get warm lately and the thought of going outside and freezing my rear off has not been that appealing.  Maybe I’ve just been “grilled out” lately and besides cooking old standbys, I just haven’t come up with anything interesting to cook on the Egg lately. Or maybe its just that with it being winter and it getting dark so early and our poor patio lighting, I just haven’t felt like cooking outside in the dark. I will promise to do my best to grill something blog worthy this week on the Egg…if the weather cooperates. And I get over this nasty cold I have…


  1. Line the rack below your potatoes to catch the oil dripping off the potatoes for easier cleanup.
  2. Freeze bacon for 15 minutes to make slicing into lardons easier.
  3. Use white pepper instead of black pepper. It’s just an aesthetic thing, but who wants to see black flecks in their white soup?
  4. Save the skins to make potato skins later as an appetizer. They can be frozen for later as well. 4 potatoes will result in 16 potato skins.
  5. For the perfect baked potato, cook until the IT temp is 212F. For this soup, 200F will be fine.

The Only Stew I’ve Ever Liked

Beef Stew with Sherry and Mushrooms

Ice-pocalypse. Ice-mageddon 2013. Call it what you want, but it got cold here in the DFW this past weekend.
Ice-pocalypse. Ice-mageddon 2013. Call it what you want, but it got cold here in the DFW this past weekend.

     For those of you outside of the DFW area, if you saw the news, you saw that we got hit pretty bad this past weekend. Not as bad as some areas of the country that get it every year on a weekly basis, like Colorado or Wyoming or the North Atlantic Coast. But this is Texas y’all. We don’t see this but once or twice a year and when it does happen, it is like the end of the world.

     It started sleeting before 3 PM on Thursday and quickly dipped below freezing (for what would end up being 72 hours and 45 minutes if my memory serves correctly). Schools and businesses shut down. There was a mad rush on grocery stores, hardware stores and liquor stores. As if we couldn’t survive being shut in our houses for a few days. Seriously?

     That being said, I found myself in the mob of people at the grocery store Thursday fighting for the necessary staples to make it through the weekend and eyeing the shelves in wonder as they emptied right in front of me. I was armed with a list provided by my lovely wife for soups and a stew to keep us warm throughout the storm and I was going to get everything on that list by golly!! (which I mostly did)

Mrs. G's stew
Mrs. G’s stew

     Some have said that there might be something wrong with me. And I would probably have to agree. I have to confess something. I HATE STEW!! Always have and thought I always would. I refused to eat it growing up as a kid much to my mother’s chagrin. When we went off to camp every summer and it was stew night at the cafeteria, I wouldn’t eat a bite. Somewhere in college, I developed an appreciation of Guiness and I thought if I liked Guiness, I might like Guiness stew. Made a big ole pot of it one night, took a bite and ended up going to Whataburger. And it’s been so long since I’ve tried it, I can’t quite recall if it was the taste. Or the texture. Or a combination of both. It’s not the smell as I think it smells great while cooking.

     So when Mrs. G mentioned that she wanted to make a stew a few weeks ago, I was less than enthusiastic. I warned her of my disdain for the dish and told her not to take it personally if I didn’t like it and wouldn’t end up finishing it. Being forewarned, she went ahead and made some and told me to keep an open mind.

      I must say, I am glad that she did. I may not like traditional stews, but this is one I will eat and sop up every last drop in the bowl with a piece of bread. Which I have done a few times since she first made it, including this past weekend during the Ice-pocalypse. 

     Let me tell you, that there is nobody more surprised (well, maybe my parents) that a recipe for stew is making an appearance on my blog, but this one is so good, I just had to share it.

Most of the necessary ingredients
Most of the necessary ingredients

 Above you will see most of the ingredients used in this stew. The beef broth and flour are missing, but I think everything else is there.

Our choice of meat
Our choice of meat

     The first time my wife made the stew, she used stew meat. It was good, but honestly was a bit dry and not the most tender. I was instructed to procure a chuck roast for this batch and while I’m pretty sure positive that is what I was looking at in the store. Somehow, when trying to find one as close to the required three pounds, I picked up this hunk o’ beef instead. I’m no butcher and no expert on what a chuck top blade steak boneless is, but I do know that it comes from the same area of the cow (shoulder). Pretty sure, anyway.

Cubed and carmelizing up
Cubed and carmelizing up


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil ???
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 3 lbs of chuck roast (cubed) or  stew meat
  • 4 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley  
  • 1 bag petit frozen peas
  • Large egg noodles, for serving
Adding the beef broth
Adding the beef broth


  1. In a large cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and bacon. When the bacon begins to lightly brown, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside. When cool, chop the bacon into 1/4-inch pieces.
  2. Add the beef and let the meat brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. In a large pot, add the mushrooms, carrots, garlic, onions and bacon. Mix in the flour and stir well.
  4. Add the beef stock, sherry, bay leaves and beef. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the pot but leave it slightly cracked for the steam to escape. Cook for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender.
  6. When the meat is tender, slowly stir in the heavy cream, parsley and peas.
  7. Serve the stew in shallow bowls over egg noodles.
When the meat is tender, add in the cream, parsley and peas.
When the meat is tender, add in the heavy cream, parsley and peas.

     If you are gonna have stew, you need some nice warm, hearty bread to sop up all those juices. Lately we’ve been using the Master recipe from The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. So simple and easy and we’ve gotten great results every time. Watch their YouTube video if you are interested. I may or may not do a post on it later. Haven’t quite decided yet.

Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day. No kneading required. Just mix the ingredients and store in the refrigerator until wanted. Will hold up to two weeks.
Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day. No kneading required. Just mix the ingredients and store in the refrigerator until wanted. Will hold up to two weeks.

     I never thought I would say it, but this is one stew recipe that I love. I think it has something to do with the cream and the sherry. Quite possibly the addition of bacon.

A rustic dinner is served.
A rustic dinner is served.

     I’ll say it again…I HATE STEW!! But not this one. I absolutely love this stew and I don’t mind if Mrs. G makes it over and over again this winter. Maybe its the cream. Maybe its the sherry. Maybe its both, but I adore it. So if you are like me and hate stew, or are just looking for a new take on an old classic, try this one out and don’t forget to let me know what you think.

Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup

Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup
Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup

     It’s not very often I stumble on a recipe (actually Mrs. G stumbled on this one), try it out and immediately think to myself, “I’ve got to share this one with my readers.” See, the thing is we are not real good at following recipes. We’ll use it as a broad outline, maybe change a few things to better suit our tastes or use what we have on hand. Such was not the case when we made this soup last week. We followed this recipe to the “T”. Ok…we almost did. The ingredients are exactly the same, but we changed the process just a hair.

     Now, before we go any further, I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. This Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup came from Maria and Josh over at Two Peas and Their Pod. I sent them an e-mail and they graciously allowed me to share this soup with you guys. I haven’t checked out their whole site, but they’ve got quite a few things I can’t wait to try out myself.

Home made Hot Italian Sausage
Home made Hot Italian Sausage

     The first and only change we made to their ingredients was to use Hot Italian Sausage. Normally, when  I see Italian Sausage in a recipe, I figure they mean regular. Hot usually works as well and it just so happened we had one last pound of it in our freezer. I think that’s how Mrs. G found this recipe. She was looking for something to do with it. Anyway, I cut the casings off the sausage and rolled it up into little meatballs and browned it off in a skillet.

     The second change I made was to take a little bit of chicken stock and de-glaze the skillet. I figured why let all those good bits go to waste? The de-glazed skillet was set aside until it was time to add the remainder of the broth to the veggies.

     In their third and final step, they immediately added in the kale and the tortellini, cooked it for 7-8 minutes, then added in the fresh basil and sausage meatballs. That works for them and would make a quick weeknight meal. I don’t know about you, but I like to let my soups simmer for as long as possible. Let those flavors really develop. So after their step two, I added in the broth (including the “good bits” from the de-glazed skillet), the tomatoes and the sausage meatballs and let it simmer…and simmer…and simmer some more. Probably for two hours while I was waiting for Mrs. G to get home.

Adding in the tortellini.
Adding in the tortellini.

     Once Mrs. G got home and was ready to eat, we added in the kale and tortellini and allowed it to cook for about 7-8 minutes, then added in the fresh basil and let it cook for a few more minutes. Final taste, adjusted any seasonings needed (we didn’t need to) and serve it up.

This soup was just screaming for a little bit fo freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
This soup was just screaming for a little bit fo freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.

     Maria said in her post that this”…Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup is hearty, full of flavor, and easy to make” and boy is she right!! It packs in a bunch of flavors. Hearty, spicy Italian sausage, tortellini filled with cheese, kale, red peppers and fresh basil! It was so good I went back for seconds and kept telling Mrs. G throughout dinner that I was going to have to share it with our readers. I think our version probably was spicier than hers due to using Hot Italian Sausage, but it wasn’t overpowering. Use either one depending on how your tastes run, but definitely try it soon. I know you will be impressed. I can see us making it quite a few more times as the weather begins to get cooler and we enter the winter months.

For the whole recipe and directions, make sure to click on this link  Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup and tell Josh and Maria we sent ya. 😉

Cream of Jalapeno Soup

Cream of Jalapeno Soup
Cream of Jalapeno Soup

     We’ve been on a little bit of a soup kick lately at the Griffin household. Not really sure why. It hasn’t really been cold enough, but for some reason we’ve just been craving it. This week, Mrs. G wanted to try and recreate a cream of jalapeno soup from the Blue Quail Deli  located the quaint downtown district of Goliad, Texas. She’s tried to make a few different versions over the years. Some closer than others, but I think she nailed it with this one. I’ll hand the blog over to her so she can tell you all about it.

Starting with the cheese
These are the cheeses we used

     “There’s a great deli called The Blue Quail in Goliad, Tx, where our family ranch is and they make a dynamite cream of jalapeño soup.  It’s a bowl of spicy, cheesy goodness that I must have when I’m in town.  My mom, sister and I love to go shopping at the cute downtown square and stop in for a light lunch…especially during fall and winter because this soup really warms you up on a cold day!  We’ve been going there for years and we usually buy a quart of soup to take home with us for later.  That’s how good it is!

     It’s been my goal to replicate their recipe and I think I finally have….Well, I’m pretty darn close anyway.  The Blue Quail soup packs more of a punch in the heat department…too much in my opinion.  I would probably use the seeds of one or two jalapeños next time but not enough that I need a tissue while eating it like I do with their soup.  The great thing is you can control the heat level to your tastes.

     Mr. G and I will be at the ranch over Thanksgiving and Christmas so I do plan on stopping by The Blue Quail and grilling them on their famous Cream of Jalapeño soup.  They don’t like to give away any secrets, that’s for sure.


Couple of veggies (we only used 4 of the 5 jalapenos)
Couple of veggies (we only used 4 of the 5 jalapenos)

     Allright, I’m back now and I know what you are probably thinking. 5 jalapenos? Wouldn’t that be a spicy soup? We actually only used 4 and once you remove the seeds and membranes, you’ve removed a majority of the heat. This soup was not spicy at all. In fact, we ended up adding some cayenne, ancho and chipotle powder to add extra heat. Let’s get on with the recipe, now.

This is the consistency you are looking for with you carrots
This is the consistency you are looking for with you carrots


  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 4 jalapenos
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock (two fourteen ounce cans)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 oz Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbsp of butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour (=1 for thickening, if needed)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional seasonings: cayenne, chipotle chile pepper powder and/or ancho chile powder
The jalapenos and onion take their turn in the food processor
The jalapenos and onion take their turn in the food processor


  1. Grate about two cups of cheese,around 16 oz (We’ve talked about using pre-shredded cheeses before. They are coated with “stuff” to prevent them from clumping in the bag. This “stuff” also prevents them from melting smoothly and will cause your soup to be grainy. Do NOT use pre-shredded, especially in this soup).
  2. Cut the tops off the jalapenos and remove the seeds and veins. Roughly chop up the jalapenos, carrots and onion.
  3. Toss the carrots into a food processor and pulse until you reach the consistency in the above picture. Remove the carrots into a skillet and repeat the process with the jalapenos and onion. Add 1 Tbsp of butter and 1 Tbsp of olive oil and saute on medium heat until they soften.
  4. In a large stockpot, melt 3 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the 3 Tbsp of flour 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. You should have a light blonde roux at this point.
  5. Slowly add in the chicken stock and heavy cream, stirring frequently. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  6. Stir in the shredded cheeses and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

    A little bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese always makes things taste better.
    A little bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese always makes things taste better.
  7. Next, add in the sautéed vegetables (Do not be alarmed as the soup turns a yellowish color at this point. That is expected). 

    I know I said to saute the veggies in a skillet. Do as you are told, not as I do. ;)
    I know I said to saute the veggies in a skillet. Do as you are told, not as I do. 😉
  8. Once, the veggies have been stirred in, cover the pot and turn the heat down to low and allow to cook for at least one hour. After an hour, adjust seasonings to taste.

    Adjust seasoning to taste after one hour.
    Adjust seasoning to taste after one hour.

     After an hour, we gave the soup a stir and noticed it had thickened up nicely. If yours still seems a bit runny, you can add another Tbsp of flour. We gave it a taste and found it to be surprisingly mild, not like the soup at the Blue Quail which can be down right too spicy on some days. To adjust, we added in a dash of cayenne and about an 1/8 tsp each of chipotle and ancho chile powder. That seemed to do the trick.

Cream of jalapeno soup served up with ham and cheese panini sandwiches
Cream of jalapeno soup served up with ham and cheese Panini sandwiches

     Soups aren’t always the most photogenic, so you are going to have to trust me on this one. This is one killer soup. Creamy and spicy. The sweetness of the carrots add a bit of a cooling factor to offset the heat. A perfect soup to warm the body on a cold and stormy night (not that it was cold or stormy the night we made this, I’m just imagining it). If soup isn’t enough to fill you up, serve it up with a sandwich or a Panini just like they do at the Blue Quail. And if you ever find yourself in Goliad, stop by the Blue Quail, try their Cream of Jalapeno Soup and let me know how you think it compares to our version.

Smoked Ham and Cheddar Soup

Smoked Ham and Cheddar Soup
Smoked Ham and Cheddar Soup

     Soups…not something we’ve covered very much here on Griffin’s Grub. It’s not that we don’t make them, we do quite a lot of them. They are cheap, filling and warm the body and soul. Even  better, they are a great way to get rid of use leftovers. Like that Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham we cooked this past weekend. This is a simple soup that you can have ready in 30 minutes, yet still pack a ton of flavor. Creamy, cheesy and just a little bit smokey from the ham (don’t worry, it’s not too much). Perfect for the cooler months coming your way. And don’t worry if you haven’t smoked a ham for leftovers. Any ham will do.

Boil potatoes, onions and carrots until softened.
Boil potatoes, onions and carrots until softened.


  • 2 cups diced peeled potatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
  • 1 cup frozen peas


  1. In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, water, carrot and onion. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add the milk, salt and pepper.

    Making a simple bechamel sauce.
    Making a simple bechamel sauce.
  4. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  5. Stir in cheese until melted.

    Add cheese to the bechamel sauce.
    Add cheese to the bechamel sauce.
  6. Stir into undrained potato mixture.

    It's all coming together now.
    It’s all coming together now.
  7. Add ham and peas; heat through.
    Entering the final stretch, adding in the ham.
    Entering the final stretch, adding in the ham.

    That wasn’t too hard, now was it? I told you it would be easy.

Nothing warms the body like a bowl of steaming soup.
Nothing warms the body like a bowl of steaming soup.

     Super simple, cheap and fast to get on the table, but not lacking in flavor. Perfect for a weekday cook and using up those leftovers. If you are looking for a soup to cook as the weather starts to get cooler, look no further.