For the Potato Cheese Soup:
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped shallots
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
- 14 ounces canned or frozen green chilies, drained
- 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed and diced
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp each salt and ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (russet potatoes will also work)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 7 oz artichoke hearts
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 cups grated medium or sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 lb thick sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
For the Grilled Cheese Croutons:
- 6 slices sandwich bread
- 2-3 tbsp mayonaise
- 9 oz medium or sharp white cheddar cheese OR muenster cheese, grated or thinly sliced
Make the Potato Cheese Soup:
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottom saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shallots, jalapeños, green chilies, and chipotle peppers and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, sugar, and potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes more.
- Stir in the wine and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, turn the heat down low enough to maintain a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 - 25 minutes, depending on their size.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, ladle half the soup into a blender and puree. (If your blender is small, do this in batches). Pour the pureed soup back into the saucepan and add the artichokes, buttermilk, and cream. Return the pan to the heat and bring back to a simmer.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheese and stir until it's completely melted. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you wish. Cover to keep warm while you prepare the bacon and grilled cheese croutons.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook stirring every now and then, until the bacon is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Pour the bacon fat from the skillet, but don't wash it out.
Make the Grilled Cheese Croutons:
*Makes enough to top 8 bowls of soup.
- Spread each slice of bread on one side with a thin layer of mayonnaise. Put the skillet back on the burner over medium heat. Set three slices of the bread in the skillet, mayonnaise side down. Add 3 ounces of cheese to each piece of bread and top with a second slice of bread, mayonnaise side up. (If your skillet won't fit three sandwiches at once, do this in batches.)
- Cook the sandwiches, flipping them over as needed, until the bread is golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted. Use the back of a spatula to press the sandwiches down as you cook to compact them a bit. Remove the sandwiches to a cutting board and let rest for 2-3 minutes. Slice each sandwich into approximately 20 croutons.
To Serve: Ladle soup into bowls, top with a spoonful of bacon, cherry tomatoes, and grilled cheese croutons.