baked potato soup

photo of a bowl of baked potato soup with scallions, cheese, bacon, and sour cream on top

There’s nothing fancy about this soup, and that’s part of why I love it. It’s great for cold nights when I don’t feel like doing a lot for dinner. I think that’s why my mom always made it for us too, to be honest.

6 medium potatoes (about 3 lbs russets/bakers), washed and diced with skin on
1/2 cup of butter, cut into cubes
8 oz container of sour cream (plus extra for garnish if you wish)
2 cups milk (whole preferred, 2% okay – not skim)
3 strips bacon, fried and chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
Water (to fill a pot large enough to hold the potatoes)
Instant potato flakes (for thickening, as needed)
Grated cheddar cheese (as garnish)

Cover potatoes with water in large pot and bring to boil. Cook until tender. Drain off almost all water. Add butter, salt, and pepper. Stir to melt butter. Add milk. Bring to just under a boil and heat the mixture through. If too thin, add small amount of potato flakes to thicken.

Stir in sour cream, bacon (and drippings) and chives. Garnish with cheddar cheese, and extra sour cream and chives, if desired.

meat lasagna with bechamel

photo of meat lasagna with bechamel

Since my husband isn’t really a fan of ricotta cheese – it’s a texture thing – I’ve started making lasagna with bechamel instead and it’s been a hit in our house.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 to 2 1/2 lbs lean (92%) ground beef
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
29 oz canned whole peeled tomatoes (I use San Marzano)
1 tbsp beef stock concentrate
6 oz tomato paste
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
6 cups milk
1 box of oven-ready lasagna sheets (you can use the regular kind, just remember to boil them according to the directions first)
8 oz shredded mozarella

Instructions for Bolognese:
Heat a 5 qt pot over medium heat, drizzle olive oil. Add in the onion and garlic and sautee until translucent and fragrant. Add ground beef and brown. Once done, add in the tomatoes, beef stock concentrate, tomato paste, basil, and oregano. Using spoon, break up whole tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower to simmer. Let cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally and breaking up the clumps of ground beef.When done, remove from the heat and put aside until ready.

Instructions for Bechamel:
Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and melt (do not let it turn brown). Add flour to pan in small amounts at a time, using a whisk to incorporate. It WILL get clumpy. Once all flour is added, add milk to pot slowly, whisking constantly. Bring temp of burner up to medium high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue whisking until it thickens and all lumps are gone. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Note: I like to use white pepper in my bechamel because it looks prettier and has a slightly different taste, but if you don’t have it, black pepper is fine). Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.

Instructions for Lasagna:
Set your oven to 375. Spray a 9×13″ baking dish with non-stick spray (I prefer to use metal baking pans). Put a very thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan. Layer 2 of the lasagna sheets along the bottom. (If you’re using the oven ready, you’ll layer these perpendicular to the long side of the pan. If you used the boiling kind, you may have to lay them parallel, depending on the length of your pasta). On top of the lasagna sheets, add 1/3 of the bolognese, then 1/3 of the bechamel. Repeat 2 more times so you end up with 3 layers of lasagna, meat sauce, and bechamel – you should end with bechamel on top. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.Place in middle of oven (note: you should probably have a cookie sheet on a rack below this in case it bubbles over – it’ll save you a burning mess) and bake for 45 minutes. Once done, set the broiler on high for 2 minutes to further brown the cheese.Remove it from the oven and let it cool for 20 minutes. Yes, I know it’s hard because it looks so good, but I promise you, it’ll be better if you’re patient since it allows everything to set up right.