oh bacon where have you been?

I know, I know. A post with bacon in the title shouldn’t be about soup. It’s kind of a cop-out. You were expecting something way more bacon-y, maybe just whole slabs of bacon on a plate with some eggs, or some dish that really revels in the full wonderfulness of bacon.

But the truth is that I can’t have that relationship with bacon for a number of reasons. Do you know how effing expensive good bacon is? I mean, even not-as-good bacon isn’t cheap these days. Secondly, like the rest of America, I don’t need to be making pork fat a regular component of my diet.

I have missed bacon, though. I’m fairly certain that the last time I ate bacon was in Elinor’s house back in Vermont. Gosh, that feels like a long time ago. I was still ski racing in a black suit with green stripes. I was still training full-time. There was still snow. Oh, snow, how I miss you.

While I can’t do anything about the lack of snow in the Willamette Valley, I can do something about the lack of bacon in my refrigerator.

The funny thing is that I didn’t set out to buy bacon. I was looking for a soup recipe – I hadn’t made any in a while, and soup is a great thing to have as leftovers. So there I was, flipping through The Scandinavian Cookbook and there! A potato soup recipe. With chives and bacon.

Potato soup sounded great… and the bacon… and the chives… and what really got me was the photos in the cookbook. They were of a nice fall day with the fog hanging in the trees and the sun falling through the branches. I could almost feel the crispness – that morning cold that will warm up into an almost-summer by noon. It’s exactly that time of year in Oregon – the rain has stopped after teasing us briefly and it has been a beautiful fall. The grass is turning golden and some of the trees are even turning red.

So it all fell into place. It was a soup for the season, and I was going to eat my first bacon in more than six months.

The soup? Yummy. It’s a simple but elegant take on potatoes – just a leek and some garlic and cream, a bit like mashed potatoes gone soupy. And I don’t mean that as a bad thing.I left mine a bit chunkier than the recipe called for, maybe half-puréed. I don’t like completely mushy soup where you can no longer recognize the ingredients, so I wanted a few potato pieces to be left in my soup.

The first night, I reveled in the wonder of bacon and honestly overlooked the soup. But I brought some to work the next day, without the bacon but with the chives, and it was still great. The takeaway message is that this is a tasty soup, and you don’t even need the bacon to be have a delicious meal – although it won’t hurt!

Potato Soup With Bacon and Chives

Adapted slightly from The Scandinavian Cookbook

3 pounds of red potatoes

2 leeks

4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

4 cups water

1/2 cup heavy cream

chopped fresh chives

1-2 slices bacon per bowl, chopped into bits and cooked in a pan

Start by cutting the potatoes into large chunks. I left the skin on, but if you wanted to remove it, you would have a more technically refined soup. Place the potatoes in a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. As the water is heating up, slice the leeks (white and light green parts) into small half-rounds and mince the garlic. Add these to the pot along with the salt and pepper. Once the water boils, leave the pot to simmer for 20 minutes. At that point, the potatoes should be soft enough to break apart with a fork. If they aren’t, keep simmering away. When they are ready, purée the soup in a blender until half or 2/3 of it is liquified and the remaining potato chunks have reduced in size. Put everything back in the pan. Stir in the cream and heat until everything is hot; taste and add salt if necessary. Top with chives and bacon.

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