Cooler days and nights are coming…..at least that’s what the weather man says and that means Homemade SOUPS!

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Yesterday’s cooking class included one of my favorite soups:  Smoked Bacon, Tomato and Cheddar Bisque.  The original recipe for this soup came from my good friend Robyn.  True she is from the NORTH (yikes) but she is a wonderful chef, none the less.  This soup is just one of her many original creations that I love.   Just the aroma of this soup simmering on the stove lifts my spirit and makes me look forward to the blustery days of Fall.

It is really important to use a good quality Apple Wood smoked bacon and Sharp Cheddar cheese.  Don’t buy the pre-shredded cheese; it just doesn’t compare to a freshly grated one.

Smoked Bacon, Cheddar and Tomato Bisque

Chiqui Collier

1/4-1/2 # Apple Wood Smoked Bacon (1/4 pound if using good apple wood smoked bacon..1/2 pound if using regular smoked bacon)

1 large onion, chopped

2 – 3 large cloves fresh, finely chopped garlic

1/4 cup red or white dry wine (optional)

2 – 28 oz cans peeled, whole plum tomatoes (Cento)

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (optional cause these are hot!!)

2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream (or Half & Half cream)

2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

Few drops of liquid smoke (use sparingly)

Salt & pepper to taste

1 full stem fresh basil leaves ( the leaves attached to the stem so that it can be easily removed after the soup is cooked)

1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh

3 cups homemade chicken stock

Cut bacon into 1 inch pieces. In a large 6 quart Dutch oven or soup pot, fry the bacon until barely crisp and all the fat is rendered out.  Remove the bacon from the pot but do not drain the fat.   In the same pot cook the chopped onions until they are very soft and transparent. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the wine and allow to reduce for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes that you crush with your hands including all the can juices, the chicken stock, the whole basil, the chipotle pepper if you choose to use it, the few drops of liquid smoke, salt, pepper and oregano.   Return the bacon to the pot.

Simmer on low heat for 1 hour. Add the cream and bring to the mixture to the boil. Remove from the heat and remove the basil stem from the soup.   Puree the soup using an immersion blender or cool the soup and puree in a blender in small batches.  Return to the pot and add 2/3 of the grated cheese over low flame and stir well until cheese melts.

To serve:  Bring the soup back up to heat.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  Place hot soup in a bowl and top each serving with a tablespoon of the remaining grated cheese.  Serve with hot, crusty bread and lots of butter.  Should yield about 8- 8oz. servings.

The temperature here in New Orleans is not really cool as yet, even though we are in October, in fact, today was really hot…high eighties but a cool front has been promised after the weekend…….so maybe that means low eighties perhaps…HA!

until next time….Bon Appetit,

Chiqui

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