6 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
3-4 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
good pinch of dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
4 oz. smoked gouda, shredded
1. In a stockpot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon until it has rendered its fat and is crispy. 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 the 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. Season again with salt and pepper, and 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. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
5. Serve, garnished with the extra bacon.