This recipe made enough for three people as a main dish; feel free to double it.
Add the chopped onions to the hot bacon fat and saute until lightly browned about 10 minutes. If the bottom of your pot gets more browned than the onions, worry not – that residue is called “fond” by the French and is full of flavor. It will come off when the liquid goes in.
When the onion is lightly brown and well softened, add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper, and stir until the onions are evenly coated with flour. Pour in a half-cup of broth and stir until incorporated, then stir in the rest of the broth and the water. Bring to a boil; boil 3 minutes or so, then add the basil and the potatoes.
Cook, mashing the potatoes lightly with a masher or the back of a spoon, until everything is hot and the soup is the texture you like. Reduce the heat and stir in the milk, sour cream, and pepper sauce or cayenne. Heat thoroughly without bringing to a boil. Serve topped with reserved bacon, cheddar cheese, and chives.
Serves: Any number Time: 65 to 85 minutes, almost all hands-off
One large russet (Idaho) potato per diner, plus two for soup
Heat the oven to 425.
Scrub the potatoes well. For extra yumminess, rub the potato skins with about 1/2 teaspoon salt each. (This increases their crispness as well as seasoning them.) Poke each one several times with a fork or knife and place directly on the rack of the hot oven. Bake 60 to 80 minutes, until a knife meets very little resistance when inserted into a potato.
Of course, if you’re baking something else, you can cook these at a different temperature and change the time accordingly.