Mushroom, Potato and Smoked Gouda Chowder
1/4 lb. bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1 lb. mushrooms (your choice, I like to use a variety), sliced
a few sprigs of fresh thyme or a good pinch of dried
1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
1 bay leaf
3-4 cups yukon gold potatoes, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1.5 cups half and half (or milk, or cream)
2 oz. smoked gouda, shredded
In a stockpot or dutch oven, cook the bacon until it has rendered its fat. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
In the bacon fat, cook the diced onion over low heat for about 2 minutes before adding the mushrooms. Add a little salt and pepper and continue cooking over low or medium-low heat until the mushrooms have released their moisture, about 10-15 minutes. Increase the heat and add the sherry or wine. Cook until almost all of the alcohol has cooked off.
Add the potatoes and the garlic, stirring to combine. Add the bay leaf and broth. Bring to a light boil and simmer until potatoes are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove the bay leaf. Put as much or as little of the mixture as you want into a food processor and pulse it. This isn't necessary but it creates both texture and thickness to the soup. Return the pureed soup to the dutch oven. Add the half and half and gouda. Simmer until the soup has heated through and the cheese has melted.
Garnish bowls with diced bacons and more cheese, if desired.