6 strips bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup flour
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup finely grated cheddar cheese (optional)
salt, to taste
Heat up a big soup pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel, but leave the bacon fat in the pan and add the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.
Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes,chicken stock, bay leaf, black pepper, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, giving the bottom of the pan a good scrape every 5 minutes (since there's flour in here and that will want to burn).
Add the heavy cream to cool the soup slightly, remove the bay let, then blend up all of the soup in small batches (be careful when blending hot liquids, if you add too much to the blender it might explode). Strain the blended soup through a fine meshed sieve, and return the strained liquid to a pot set over medium heat. Add the cheddar, if using, heat until warmed, then make any necessary salt adjustments, to taste. Serve with the crumbled bacon on top.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Joanne Ozug, Fifteen Spatulas, June 11, 2012