Wendell's Potato Soup
by Wendell Smith
(Foley, AL aka LA Lower Alabama)
Several years ago, maybe 10 or 12, we were returning home from our short beach vacation in Orange Beach, AL. We stopped at a restaurant named Chesterfields in Hattiesburg, MS for lunch. I had the Soup and Sandwich, and was surprised by what was the best potato soup that I had ever eaten. I asked for the recipe, but only received a nice smile from our wait person(a very good looking young lady).
I got home to Jackson, MS and started trying to come up with a recipe of my own. Since Chesterfields was kind of a steak and baked potato place at night, I figured that they used their left over baked potatoes for their soup.
Here is my version and it is now the best potato soup that I have ever had.
WENDELL'S POTATO SOUP
2 Medium Baked Potatoes
5 Tablespoons Butter (divide into one 2 Tablespoons and one 3 Tablespoons pieces)
3 Tablespoons Flour
2 1/2 or 3 Cups Milk
6-8 Tablespoons Grated Cheddar Cheese
2-3 Tablespoons Diced Ham (1/8 inch cubes)
Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper to Taste
TOPPINGS FOR SOUP
Crumbled Bacon (1 to 2 Teaspoons for each serving-I use the Real Bacon Pieces from either Hormel or Oscar Mayer)
Chopped Chives (About 1 Teaspoon per serving)
Grated Cheddar Cheese (About 1 Tablespoon per serving)
Either hot, fresh baked potatoes or cold, left over, baked potatoes can be used. In either case, scoop the potatoes out of their skins and place in a medium mixing bowl. Discard skins or use for other purposes. If the potatoes are still hot add 2 Tablespoons of butter and allow it to melt. If the potatoes are cold melt the butter in a microwave or on the stove and add to the potatoes. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of milk and mash the potatoes as if you were making creamed potatoes. Don't worry if there are a few lumps left in the potatoes. We are making soup and not mashed potatoes.
Make a medium white sauce by melting the remaining 3 Tablespoons of Butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until the butter and flour are well blended. Add the 2 1/2 to 3 cups of milk and continue to stir until the mixture starts to get thick. Add 3 Tablespoons of Grated Cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese has melted. Add the diced ham and stir to mix. Add the potatoes and stir until the soup is nice and thick. Add the Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper.
Ladle the soup into either soup cups or small bowls. Add the toppings to the soup and serve with fresh Saltine crackers.
NOTE: If baked potatoes are not available, peel several medium potatoes and dice them into quarter inch cubes. Place in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes seem tender. Drain, and reserve a third of a cup of the potatoes. Mash the remainder to be used in the soup. Add the reserved one third cup to the soup before serving.
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