I never order soup at restaurants. Never ever. Why? There are always far more interesting options to choose, and I have never particularly cared for restaurant soup, and don't get me started on canned soup. That being said, I definitely enjoy soup. I love homemade soup. I love MAKING homemade soup. There's just something heartwarming about the ritual of prepping and stirring a bunch of fresh ingredients into a big pot and letting it work its magic. It's such a comfort on an ugly, gray day.
The first time I made a version of this recipe was exactly 4 months into our marriage, April 2006. How do I remember that? I don't, but I love making notes on my recipes of the dates that we first tried it, and what Michael thought of it. Handwritten in the margins of that recipe card it says, "Michael loves this! April 2, 2006". I highly recommend the note-taking. You may think you'll remember the details, or which recipe for soup it was that you loved way back when, but believe me, it's harder to keep track of all of that than you might think. And there's something so fun about finding those little notes when you're flipping through. (It's also a blast to find those types of notes in vintage/used/hand-me-down cookbooks to see what others had to say.)
This recipe has evolved over the years, and I think I've got it just the way I like it. Who knows, in eight more years I may have a totally new version again, but for now, this is my favorite. I think you'll love it too. You'll want to make it again and again because it's so creamy, but not too creamy, and because the base is made with equal parts chicken stock and half & half, you get the depth of flavor from the stock, but also the velvety smooth texture that is perfect in this soup.
Preparing this recipe for Loaded Baked Potato soup is pretty straightforward. No difficult-to-find ingredients, or crazy techniques. However, a little suggestion: I find that if you get all of your ingredients out of the refrigerator ahead of time and allow them to come up to room temperature while you wash and dice the potatoes, the half & half incorporates into the broth more easily, resulting in a better, more velvety texture for your soup.