Note: I made the pretzel roll recipe as noted but ended up making smaller balls before dropping them in the water bath. I made dough balls that were about 1 to 1.5 ounces in weight and slightly bigger than 1 inch in diameter. I cut 3 minutes off the bake time. Once the rolls were cool, I used a serrated knife to cut out the center and fill it with soup! The rolls take about 2 hours from start to finish and can be made the night before. You can also buy pretzel rolls and go from there!
Note #2: I’ve made this soup now with both hard apple cider AND hard pumpkin cider! I love both. It just depends on what flavor you are looking for.
To make the soup, heat a large pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook it until crispy and the fat is rendered, them remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain. Reduce the heat to low and add the onions and garlic, stirring to coat. Cook for about 10 minutes, until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high and add in butter. Once it’s sizzling, whisk in the flour and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until you have a roux that is nutty and golden. Slowly stream in the cider while stirring constantly. Cook for 5 minutes so they alcohol cooks out and the mixture somewhat thickens.
Stream in the half and half and reduce the heat to low. Gradually add in the cheese while stirring, only a few handfuls at a time until each is melted. Stir until smooth, then fold in half of the bacon. Taste the soup and season if needed – it may need a bit of salt and pepper. Spoon it into the mini pretzel rolls. Garnish with fresh chopped herbs, chives, the leftover bacon and sour cream.