When the leaves start to fall, many of us naturally turn to wholesome comfort foods. This creamy, smooth and satisfying soup rises to the occasion, delivering the colour and flavours of the season.
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line bottom and sides of a baking sheet with foil. Place bacon slices on prepared baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Chop half of the bacon slices and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, jalapeño and thyme. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Using an immersion blender or, alternatively, transfer soup in batches to a food processor or blender to purée. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in cheese, cream and chopped bacon until cheese is melted. Ladle into bowls and break up remaining bacon into larger pieces to top soup. Sprinkle with green onions and jalapeño, if desired.
Bread Bowl Variation: Hollow out a large, crusty bread bun (or small loaf), making sure to leave generous outer walls. Immediately prior to serving, place hollowed “bowls” onto plates, ladle in soup and serve on plates with extra bread pieces on the side for dipping!