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.