My (Canadian) husband Ted often remarks that I don't include enough Canadian recipes in my cooking repertoire. He's not wrong. The truth is that I've never really been able to define Canadian cooking. We've enjoyed classic French-influenced food in Montreal; smoked oolichans in British Columbia; Chinese and Greek food in Toronto; lobster cooked every which way on Prince Edward Island. Is one cuisine more Canadian than the others? Still, when I create recipes for Ted that bring together Canadian flavors, I gravitate toward the trifecta of Yukon Gold potatoes, bacon, and cheese. This soup marries all three. If you can find Oka, a mild semi-firm cheese from Southern Ontario, please use it here. Easier to come by at my local cheese shop, Fontal, an Italian cheese, makes a sublime substitute, as will Danish Fontina, which is readily available here in almost any supermarket. If ever there were comfort food in a bowl, this creamy smooth cheese, potato and bacon soup is it, and you don't have to be Canadian to fall in love with it.
Canadian cheese, potato and bacon soup
From the pantry, you'll need: bacon, onion, fresh thyme, chicken broth, olive oil.
Serves 2-4; can be multiplied.
3 slices bacon, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
1-1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
2 Tbsp fresh thyme, or 1 Tbsp dried thyme
4 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
1/3 lb Oka (or Fontal, or Danish Fontina) cheese, cut into small dice
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (adds nice fresh flavor if you're using dried thyme)
In a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until the bacon is browned but not crisp. Scoop out the bacon pieces, leaving the fat in the pot, and set aside.
To the bacon fat in the pot, add the olive oil and onions. Reduce heat to low, and cook the onions slowly for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and brown (caramelized), but not crispy.
At this point, add the potatoes and thyme. Continue to cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes; the potatoes will lose their raw look.
Pour in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low. With the broth at a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes. The potatoes should be cooked through; test by piercing one with the tip of a sharp knife.
Turn off the heat, and use an immersion blender to pureé the soup until smooth (or pureé in batches in a stand blender, carefully).
Stir in the cooked bacon, and all but a spoonful of the cheese. The residual heat of the soup will melt the cheese. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. (If you've used storebought chicken broth, you probably will not need additional salt.)
Garnish with the remaining bits of cheese, and fresh parsley.
More Canadian-inspired recipes:
Canadian breakfast turkey meatballs with maple and bacon, from The Perfect Pantry
Quick bread: bannock, from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
Vegetarian poutine, from Flourishing Foodie
Saskatoon berry pie, from All Our Fingers in the Pie
Acadian salt cod fish cakes, from The Kitchn
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