How to Make the Machine Shed Potato Soup Recipe At Home

Do you love potato soup? Especially from the Midwestern comfort restaurant Machine Shed? In this article, we’re going to break down the Machine Shed’s world-famous potato soup and how to make it at home.

The Machine Shed Restaurant

The Machine Shed Restaurant was founded in a 100-seat space just outside Davenport, IA in 1978. From the beginning through their modest, six-location expansion to Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, their daily Midwest comfort food specials create an environment that fulfills their corporate constitution to celebrate the American farmer. With beautifully comforting offerings from breakfast to dinner and dessert, the Machine Shed’s Americana menus show their heritage and heart from the city billed as the most livable small town in America.

Baked Potato Soup

Baked potato soup is a restaurant staple in the United States, brought to us by restaurants like Steak & Ale or Outback Steakhouse. With Panera Bread, a fast-casual restaurant focusing on clean ingredients, picking up the soup style in their stores, they are delicious, creamy, rich, thick, and dense, with a style all their own.

Machine Shed Potato Soup

The Machine Shed’s signature offering is their world-famous baked potato soup, loaded with chunky, tender Idaho red potatoes, cheddar cheese, green onions and crispy bacon. While Machine Shed isn’t likely to have invented the baked potato soup, their version of it is one of the finest versions that we’ve seen in restaurants. This recipe is slightly simplified from the original to make it more accessible to a home cook, but it maintains the spirit of the restaurant’s rich Midwestern comfort fare.

We’re following the Machine Shed’s lead in using a base of red potatoes for texture. We add a hit of cream – some copycat recipes use whipped cream for an additional hit of sweetness, but we’re going to use ordinary heavy cream – and top this off with milk, water, flour, and salt and pepper. Once the soup is ready to be served, crumbled bacon gets added to the top of the soup, and the whole thing is given a coating of cheddar cheese.


  • 2 ½ pounds red potatoes
  • 8 tablespoons butter, for roux
  • 8 tablespoons flour, for roux
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3/8 pound bacon, diced and fried
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup heavy cream

For Garnish

  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/8 pound bacon, diced and fried


  • Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and in a foil-lined pan, peel the bacon off the slab and lay it down with a small amount of space between slices. Since bacon shrinks as it cooks, there’s no need to be precise other than to make sure that no slice overlaps any other. Cook the bacon for 18-20 minutes or until it’s completely crispy but not burned. Remove from the oven, place to the side to cool. Once the bacon is cooled, it can be chopped into small bacon bits. Reserve about ¼ pound of the bacon for crumbling over the top of the finished soup, and put the rest into a ramekin.
  • To start the soup, we’re going to improve on the original recipe’s procedure by making a roux. Roux is a simple 1:1 mixture of butter and flour in which the recipe’s flour is toasted until it’s golden – a “blonde” roux. For a potato soup, roux should not be cooked past the blonde stage; a red or brown “brick” roux will color the soup an off-putting dark brown that the cook trying to make the potato soup at home will… um, rue.
  • Heat the water and milk to boil in a cold pot, and add the potatoes, garlic, onions, and chicken stock to the pot. Once the pot reaches a boil, reduce to low-medium heat and lower until the pot reaches a slow simmer.
  • Once the potatoes have fully tenderized, add the bacon and heavy cream to the soup and stir until fully integrated. Add some bacon fat if you choose, or substitute olive oil. Either way, the soup will need to simmer for only a relatively short time – it can be served after only about half an hour of simmering time.

Final Touches

You can hold the soup at a simmer for up to an hour before service, to let the potatoes continue to break down and the flavors meld. Either way, the soup will be a delight: A shorter simmering time will result in firmer potatoes that will break under your teeth, while a longer simmer will boil away more starch into the water, giving you a creamier final soup that will have a rich, hearty mouth feel.

When you’re ready to serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with your garnishes: Shredded cheddar (or Colby) cheese, scallions, and pinches of diced bacon bits.


The world-famous Machine Shed baked potato soup is Americana comfort food at its finest. A Midwestern dish derived from an Irish-American staple that’s hearty, homey and comforting, and at the same time creamy, rich and decadent. The sweetness of heavy cream and the bite of the sharp cheese, crispy bacon, and scallions give this classic dish a beautiful finish that your family and friends will love.


Where did baked potato soup come from?

Potato soup was an Irish staple before the potato famine, made with simple ingredients like potatoes, milk, salt, pepper, and butter. American baked potato soup was likely invented by someone who had to ask themselves, “What will we do with all these extra baked potatoes?”

What kind of potatoes are used in baked potato soup?

The base of most baked potato soups comes from baked russet potatoes, the most common potato eaten in America. Restaurant baked potato soups, like the one from the Machine Shed, tend to be made with red or gold potatoes, which have a stronger flavor and a firmer structure than russets, giving the diner a contrast between the creamy base and firm potato pieces to bite.

Why use a roux? Why not just add the flour to the pot?

When making gravy, you may notice that if you add flour to the pot, it tends to form lumps. The outside of small clumps of flour hydrates first and encapsulates the rest of the flour in an unpleasant lump of raw flour. Cooking the flour in a roux before adding it to the pot avoids that. Because the flour is already cooked, it disperses into the soup instead of clumping together.

You can also read:

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *