- 6 slices bacon, chopped*
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts, sliced and cleaned (or 1 medium onion chopped)
- 2 Honeycrisp or tart apples, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 can (473 mL) hard apple cider or beer* or 2 cups regular cider
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup whipping/heavy cream
- 2 cups shredded aged white Cheddar cheese
- Garnish: Toasted pumpkin seeds
- In a soup pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat cook bacon until crisp about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper-towel lined plate. Remove all but 2 tbsp bacon fat.
- To the pot add sweet potato and leeks cook over medium high for 5 minutes. Add apples and cook 6 to 8 minutes longer until vegetables are softened and fragrant. Add garlic and thyme and cook 30 seconds.
- Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly until flour is incorporated, about 2 minutes.
- Slowly add the stock and use the back of a wooden spoon to scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Slowly pour in the cider/beer and add bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf and turn off heat. Using an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender in batches), puree soup until smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in vinegar and cream; stir until smooth.
- Return heat to low and stir in cheese in three batches, stirring constantly until cheese is melted and smooth. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
- To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds.
Bacon: You can easily make this soup a vegetarian version by omitting the bacon and substituting 2 tbsp of butter or olive oil. (We even perfer a combination of both butter and oil)
Apples: When Honeycrisp apples are in season, they are my favourite ones to use. Other good options are Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji or Golden Delicious.
Cider: Apple cider adds a complex, sweet flavour and tart flavour. I prefer a hoppy hard cider such as Somersby, West Ave Cider Heritage Dry, Angry Orchard or Thornbury Village Craft. If using a beer, an IPA with refreshing bitter and hoppy notes work well.