Aired January 30, 2008

Ingredients
8 slices bacon, chopped
4 leeks, green parts removed and discarded, white parts chopped
4 to 5 cloves garlic, chopped
8 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from stems
1 tablespoon paprika, plus additional for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
A dash of hot sauce (optional)
1 cup shredded New York-style cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
Scallions, for garnish
Sour cream, for garnish (optional)
Preparation

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon until golden brown. Remove cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve.

Add leeks and garlic to the bacon fat and cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add in the thyme, paprika, some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add potatoes and stock to the pot and bring up to a bubble. Reduce heat to medium and simmer the potatoes until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. When the potatoes are tender, puree the soup until smooth using a blender, food processor or immersion blender.

Adjust the seasoning as needed with salt, freshly ground black pepper and hot sauce, if desired. Serve the soup in a bowl or mug topped with some of the two cheeses, reserved bacon, a sprinkling of scallions, a dollop of sour cream and a dash of paprika.

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