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My family’s trip to Disney World last month was filled with fun rides and attractions, relaxing time by the pool, lots of walking and plenty of food.
In the months leading up to our trip, we did our research on restaurants and snack menus, choosing where we wanted to eat. Because our trip coincided with the annual Epcot Food and Wine Festival, we had even more options.
Our list of foods to try varied from Mickey Mouse waffles at our resort to warm raclette Swiss cheese with baby potatoes, cornichons and baguettes near the Norway pavilion in Epcot.
We dined at wonderful restaurants. My favorites were Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs, where I ate the most delicious buttermilk-brined fried chicken with mashed potatoes and a cheddar drop biscuit; Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria at Epcot, with a much-anticipated fire-oven pizza and strawberry acqua fresca that I crave every day; and Chef Mickey’s, where we arrived for dinner on the monorail and all chose what we wanted from a bountiful buffet. Mickey Mouse helped me walk up the steps at Chef Mickey’s and even blew me a kiss as he walked away. It was so much fun.
We all picked up snacks along the way during our four days at the parks and often shared treats including popcorn, Mickey-shaped pretzels, fancy cream pastries in the French pavilion and strawberry-dusted yeast donut holes. One of my favorite treats was a non-alcoholic drink at The Night Blossom in Animal Kingdom’s Pandora area. It’s a mix of limeade, apple and pear topped with bobo balls. My granddaughter and I loved it.
At Epcot, we used many snack credits from our Disney Dining Plan to try foods at the festival. We had all looked forward to stopping at the Canada pavilion to sample the wild mushroom beef filet mignon from Le Cellier as well as the Canadian cheddar and bacon soup. The tender steak and creamy soup were among our favorites, hands down. In fact, the filet mignon has probably been the most-talked about food item of our trip.
Once we were back at home, I started thinking about that soup. Honestly, when I was eating it, I thought it was a cheesy potato soup, but, in fact, it was a white cheddar cheese soup with no potatoes. I looked for copycat recipes and found quite a few, including a Disney recipe. But I didn’t want to make a cheddar cheese soup; I wanted potato soup.
So, I adapted the recipe, incorporating some elements from other soups I make, and came up with a delicious soup. I did follow the recipe directions to a point, and found it easy, although a little time consuming. But it was worth the effort.
Reggie and I ate the soup Friday night and again as leftovers on Sunday night. I added a little milk and chicken broth to the leftovers so the soup wouldn’t be too thick. We loved it both times.
Although I started with a basic recipe, I made a number of changes that are reflected in the recipe.
I used 10 slices of microwave bacon, cut and cooked in the skillet until it got a little crispy and left some bacon drippings in the bottom. Next time I might use a few more slices.
I added around 2 cups of unpeeled, cubed red potatoes to the cheddar soup recipe. Next time, I will use at least 3 cups of potatoes.
I never cook with red onion and almost used sweet onion instead, but I didn’t. The red onion does add a nice flavor.
I didn’t use Tabasco sauce, which is apparently in the Disney recipe, but we loved the addition of Worchestershire sauce.
Next time I make this recipe, I will warm the milk some — probably to room temperature — before adding it to the soup. It took a long time for the soup to warm after the cold milk was added.
I also covered the skillet while the soup simmered so the veggies would cook.
For this soup, I used a new enameled cast iron braiser from Le Creuset, so the soup didn’t stick. Be careful when you make this; stir often and don’t turn the heat up too high so it doesn’t stick.
Cheesy Potato Soup with Bacon
I adapted a Disney recipe to create this delicious soup. It’s a great way to warm up on a cool day. Eat it with a hearty loaf of bread and fresh fruit.
10-12 slices fully cooked bacon (the kind you warm in the microwave)
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped celery
3 cups diced, unpeeled red potato
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock (I used a box of low-sodium chicken broth)
4 cups warm milk (warm to room temperature; I used skim milk)
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup white cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Ground pepper to taste
Extra cheese or bacon for garnish
Cut bacon in small pieces and add to 4- to 5-quart non-stick pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. I used a cast iron enamel braiser. Stir the bacon to brown, around 4-5 minutes. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.
Add onion, celery and potato to pan and saute until vegetables start to soften, around 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add flour. Stir constantly for 3-4 minutes until flour covers vegetables.
Stir in chicken broth and bring to boil. Boil for a minute then reduce heat to medium or low. Simmer for 15 minutes, covered; stir occasionally.
Add milk, at room temperature, and let simmer for another 15 minutes, with some of that time covered. Do not boil.
Remove from heat and add cheese, Worchestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth. If soup is too thick, add more milk.
Garnish with cheese and bacon if desired.
Adapted from a Disney recipe