Recipe: Rozanne Gold's Parsnip-Apple Soup with "Bacon Candy"

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This soup can be made up to 3 days in advance.  If you want to serve it to your favorite vegetarians, eliminate the bacon and garnish with slivered smoked almonds.

4 packed cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts
2 pounds parsnips, peeled
3 large Fuji apples, 1 1/4 pounds, peeled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 strips thick-sliced bacon
1/4 cup turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Wash leeks and dry.  Cut the parsnips and apples into 1-inch pieces.  Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a medium pot.  Add the leeks; cook 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add the parsnips and apples; cook 5 minutes.  Dice 2 bacon strips and add to the pot with 6-1/2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook until the vegetables are very soft, 25 minutes. 

Meanwhile, place 6 bacon slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Rub the sugar evenly onto the top of each slice.  Bake 10 minutes; drain the fat.  Bake 10 minutes longer, until crisp.  Cut into 1/4-inch pieces.

In batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth.  Reheat the soup with the remaining tablespoon of butter.  Garnish with bacon "candy."  Serves 8  

Adapted from Radically Simple, by Rozanne Gold, published by Rodale.