Ah, September. My nemesis.
August, now, August is amazeballs. It's the one month in Washington State where you are pretty much guaranteed gorgeous weather. It's the one month that I get to participate in the Washington Trails Association's Hike-a-Thon - which is like a license to hike! Whenever. I. Want. This August I hiked 100 miles and raised $1275.00! It's the one month where after an entire summer of automatically waking up at 6:00 am, I start to be able to sleep in just a little bit... luxuriously stretching out until 7:30 some mornings. Awesome.
And then September comes and ruins ALL of that!
No more hiking. September is for running around like crazy people trying to get everything done before school starts. September sucks money from our bank account like a leech: back-to-school supplies, clothes, yearbooks, ASB cards, pictures, sporting equipment, clothes, parking passes, clothes. Clothes. Clothes. Clothes. (We do have two teenage girls, after all.) And most rudely, the alarm starts going off at 5:30 five mornings a week. September is stupid.
Except for one small redemption. The leaves start to turn, the nights are a little chillier, we actually close the windows for the first time in a month, and my soup cookbooks drift off the bookshelf like falling leaves and start to scatter themselves around the house. One by my laptop, three by the bathtub, one in the kitchen windowsill, four by my bed. Soup season has arrived. Ah, September. Maybe it's a love-hate relationship after all.
Creamy Brie, Bacon, and Kale Soup is pure comfort in a bowl. Some of my friends expressed reservations about the calorie count, but as I told them, it's soup. That makes it automatically good for you. And it has KALE in it. Besides, I've had to put aside my August nirvana for another 11 months, so dammit, I deserve a little decadence in my life.
Creamy Brie, Bacon, and Kale Soup
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into thin strips
1/4 c. butter
1 large leek, washed well, white and light green parts sliced thinly (about 2 c.)
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (about 1/2 c.)
1 clove of garlic, pressed through a press
1/2 t. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
4 c. chicken broth
3/4 lb. Brie cheese, cut into cubes, rind left on
1/2 c. heavy cream
1-2 large leaves of curly kale, stemps removed, washed, and minced very finely. (about 2 c.)
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and sprinkle them with a little kosher salt. Let the leeks sweat, stirring occasionally, until they're quite soft, 8-10 minutes. Add the celery and cook until it softens, 2-4 minutes longer. Stir in the garlic and the thyme and combine well.
Add the flour, and stir continually until the flour loses its raw taste, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, and whisk it all together. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then let it simmer for 10 minutes longer.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add the brie. Keep the rind on... it will add that distinct brie taste. The rind won't melt at this stage, but don't worry, once you use the immersion blender it will all smooth out. Stir until the cheese has melted. Add the cream. Then, using an immersion blender (or a regular blender in batches) blend the soup until it is perfectly smooth. Stir in the bacon, the kale and salt and pepper to taste. The kale should cook in the residual heat of the soup since you've minced it so finely. Serve hot.
This soup chills well, and I thought it was even better the next day. Do reheat gently, though. Don't boil as the cheese may separate.