The Virgin Gets Down & Dirty with Rachael Ray's Loaded Potato Soup

This Virgin's one smooth operator.
​Wintertime in Phoenix is normally shorts and flip-flops weather, but not this year. Thanks to whatever crappy weather phenemenon is currently blanketing Texas in snow and dumping ice on Hotlanta, it's a little bit chilly for us thin-blooded Arizonans. The good news is that it's prime time for hot soup, something we'll all be avoiding in a few months.

I suck at cooking -- or rather, as a Facebook friend pointed out, suck at cooking anything that doesn't come out of a box, bag or kit -- and have resolved to learn to prepare decent meals in 2011. This week, I tackled a recipe for Potato Soup with The Works courtesy of the always smiling, dog-loving daytime diva Rachael Ray. She's a self-taught home cook who takes tons of shortcuts. How hard could it be?

Read on and see me weep...    

This little piggy went right into the pot.

(serves 4)

•8 slices bacon, chopped
•4 leeks, green parts removed and discarded, white parts chopped
•4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
•8 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
•1 tablespoon paprika, plus additional for garnish
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper
•4 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
•1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
•A dash of hot sauce (optional)
•1 cup shredded New York-style cheddar cheese
•1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
•Scallions, for garnish
•Sour cream, for garnish (optional)

The Virgin's DeStructions:

Per Rachael Ray's directions, I started by browning the bacon in a large stockpot. OK. How the heck do you dice flabby, fatty slabs of bacon? Every attempt I made resulted in gross looking white strings, so finally I gave up and just shredded the shit with my hands. Good thing bacon tastes awesome no matter what it looks like. I cooked the bacon for about five minutes, until it was golden brown. Soon my bacon was resting on a paper towel to the side, while a puddle of thin brown grease began congealing in the bottom of the pot.

I sense a knife skills class in the Virgin's future.
​Next step: add leeks and garlic. Wait, I was supposed to chop up all of the veggies BEFORE I started cooking? I suppose anyone with a modicum of practical cooking knowledge would've realized that you need to prepare/chop/dice the ingredients prior to beginning the cooking phase, but then again clearly I am not a person with a modicum of cooking know-how. Lesson learned.

While frantically trying to keep the grease from burning in the bottom of my pot (which I eventually removed from the heat), I diced up the leeks and garlic and started peeling the potato. As I attempted to slide my pitiful $2 Wal-Mart special kitchen knife into a leek, my husband grimaced and braced to dial 9-1-1. My eyes began to water from the leeks and I could hardly see my fingers. "Honey, leeks are related to onions, you know," I heard over my shoulder.

Thanks, Captain Freaking Obvious!

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Bacon cooking tip: Anytime you need to dice bacon for cooking, put it in your freezer for 15-20 minutes first, this will make cutting it easy.


To get even and pretty pieces of bacon from its raw state, try using kitchen shears to cut it. Also, glass cutting boards are hell on your kitchen knives. But since they're 99-cent specials, you sound at peace with such things. :)

Despite all the missteps your soup looks really, really pretty!

Cooking Virgin
Cooking Virgin

Thanks, ELO! I did invest in a couple of bamboo cutting boards after your comment... someday, I'll be able to upgrade the knives too.

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