So, yesterday was a solid 54 degrees and 100% humidity. You know that legendary fog in San Francisco? The fog that comes in on little cat feet? Yeah, I'm from Texas, where it burns off by 8am. This fog? This fog STICKS. The city is eerily quiet.
So, in light of the sticky grey that was sticking around, I needed a warm, sticky soup. There were several potato soup recipes in my new Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons, but I wanted more traditional, baked potato soup, the kind you put sour cream, cheddar cheese, and chives on top (or crumbled bacon, for my carnivores). Then I remembered this roasted garlic and potato soup I had once at a hotel in on a cold, lonely night in Denver.... and bam! My roasted garlic cream-of-potato soup was born.
(I took photos but my camera is on the fritz.... trust me, it looks exactly like the creamy, melty, ooey-gooey bowl of deliciousness that is was.)
2 large head of garlic, + 6-7 smashed cloves (I KNOW!)
about a cup chopped white or yellow onion
7-8 medium Yukon potatoes, peeled if you want (I did not) and chopped (note: Yukons are ideal for creamy soups as they are a little less "stiff" than a traditional russet or red-skinned potato- they are more starchy and tend to fall apart in a soup, so they do part of your work for you!)
1 red apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 C dry-ish white wine (I used pinot grigio because that's what I had but sauvignon blanc probably would have been a little better)
1 to 1 1/2 C milk of your choosing (I used 2%)
about a cup of grated cheddar cheese (if I had had smoked cheddar I would have used that)
salt and pepper
to garnish: sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, thinly sliced green onions, crumbled bacon (optional)
First, roast your garlic, and make your house smell like heaven. Slice the tops off 2 large heads of garlic, and nestle them in a cozy little aluminum foil house. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, & pepper, and add a little water at the bottom so they don't dry out. Seal tightly and bake at 400 for 50 minutes to an hour. Set aside (wrapped).
In a large soup pot, heat a swirl or two of olive oil. (If you are cooking bacon for the garnish then do it right in your soup pot, forgo the olive oil, and use the bacon grease.) Add the 6-7 smashed garlic cloves and chopped onion, and sautee for a couple of minutes. Add the potatoes, apple, wine, and just enough water to cover, plus a little salt, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until potatoes are very soft- about 35 minutes.
Take the soup off the heat and use your immersion blender to puree. (If you don't have an immersion blender: let cool, transfer to your food processor, and then move back to your soup pot.)
Next, add the roasted garlic. Squeeze every last sweet, savory, roasty bit into your soup pot, taking care to not let any skins drop in. (Use this opportunity to lick your fingers when you're done. Then wash your hands.) Season liberally with salt and pepper now, so you can adjust during the last few steps. I tend to be an over-seasoner (I considered adding rosemary) but to me, nothing pairs so well with a starchy, hardy potato like good old-fashioned black pepper. Add about a cup of milk and bring back to a low heat, stirring occasionally until all the starch from the potatoes is released into the milk and the soup has a thick, cream-of-wheat-like consistency. (Add more milk if needed to reach your desired soupiness.) Then, fold in your cheddar cheese, a little at a time, stirring until it's completely melted.
Serve hot, garnished like your favorite baked potato.