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Galuppi's Baked Potato Soup

This recipe from Galuppi's, 1103 N. Federal Highway, Pompano Beach, 954-785-0226 appeared in the May 8, 2008, You Asked For It column by Suzanne S. Jones.

Galuppi's Baked Potato Soup

Suzanne's tip: You can bake your potatoes several hours or even a day ahead for this deliciously comforting soup. If you are in a hurry, use a microwave to cook the potatoes.

4 large or 5 medium Idaho baking potatoes 6 tablespoons butter3 medium ribs celery, chopped1 small yellow onion, chopped6 tablespoons all-purpose flour1 quart heavy cream1 quart half-and-half1 1/2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base1 tablespoon salt, or to taste1/4 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Frank's recommended; we used Tabasco), or to taste2 tablespoons dry basil leaves, crushedChopped scallions, for garnishCrisp, crumbled bacon (we used the Hormel brand Real Bacon Bits), for garnishShredded cheddar cheese, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and prick several places with a kitchen fork. Place directly on the oven rack in the center of the oven and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

Peel and cut the potatoes into scant 1/2-inch dice. Set aside.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the celery and onions and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes or until translucent. Add the flour to make a roux and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Slowly add the heavy cream and half-and-half, stirring or whisking constantly to avoid lumps. When the mixture is hot but not yet simmering, whisk in the chicken base.

Keep whisking until the base is completely dissolved. Stir in the salt, pepper, hot sauce and basil leaves. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook about a minute. Add the diced potatoes, return to a simmer and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve immediately or cool, cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. Reheat slowly over medium-low heat.

To serve, top each serving with about a teaspoon each of the scallions, bacon bits and cheddar cheese. Makes about 14 cups.

Per (1-cup) serving: 431 calories, 79 percent calories from fat, 38 grams total fat, 24 grams saturated fat, 132 milligrams cholesterol, 19 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram total fiber, 1 gram total sugars, 18 grams net carbs, 5 grams protein, 664 milligrams sodium.

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