Mushroom, Sweet Potato, and Smoked Gouda Chowder

by Thea Miller

This soup screams fall and pairs perfectly with crusty bread and hearty Syrah or Porter. 

Serves 4-6

adapted from a hint of honey

6 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs.), peeled and cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
4 oz. Brennan's Smoked Gouda
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside.

2. Add the diced onions and the mushrooms to the bacon fat in the pot. Season with a little salt and pepper, and cook until the moisture released from the mushrooms evaporates and the vegetables start to brown, about 10-15 minutes.

3. Add the sweet potatoes and garlic, stirring to combine. Add the thyme, bay leaf, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Return most of the bacon to the pot, leaving a little extra to garnish the soup.

4. Remove the bay leaf. Puree as much or as little of the mixture as you want in a food processor, and return the pureed soup to the pot (alternatively, use an immersion blender). Add the half and half and the gouda. Simmer until the soup has heated through and the cheese has melted. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve, garnished with the extra bacon.