This was one of those recipes that on first taste, I thought to myself: Wow, that worked; second taste: that reeeally worked. I credit Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food with the inspiration for the flavor combination. To quote Alice herself, "I was amazed to discover how little Parmesan and butter transforms plain wilted chard. Try it and see." (See Alice's recipe for "Chard with Parmesan".) Try it I did, and was equally amazed. But to give the soup more depth, I added bacon while cooking the onions and potatoes, which I removed and later used as a garnish. (No, I did not "soupify" the bacon.) I also added parsley as I pureed, to boost the color and balance the rich flavors - asiago and bacon - with fresh herbs. The result is a thick soup that works as a meal. Thanks again, Alice! —Caitlin Raux Gunther
While potatoes are boiling, remove stems from Swiss chard, wash and dry. Melt butter, and toss swiss chard in butter. *Do not salt (this will suck moisture from the swiss chard while it cooks). Into the oven for 20 minutes.
Once potatoes are soft enough to pierce with a fork, let cool and remove skin (run under cold water and the skin slides off). Thickly slice potatoes. Finely slice the shallot. Cut bacon into half-inch pieces (width-wise).
Put large cast iron pan over medium heat. Once hot, add a 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and then the shallots. After the shallots begin to cook, add the bacon. Let both cook, stirring occasionally. When both begin to lightly brown, add potatoes (bacon and shallots should be giving off enough liquid to cook the potatoes). Let cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Remove bacon and reserve.
Remove chard from oven. Add chicken broth to pan, stir, and cover. Meanwhile, wash and chop a couple handfuls of parsley. Finely chop cooked bacon. Add swiss chard to pan, and simmer for 10 minutes (or more if you have time).
Add grated cheese and stir. Allow to cool. Transfer to food processor and pulse until mixture is smooth. Add parsley, pulse again. Return to a pot over medium-low heat.
When soup is hot, transfer to bowl, and garnish with creme fraiche and bacon. A poached egg is another option.