Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bacon Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe jumped off the pages of a cookbook that my mom gave me. The cookbook basically takes some of the best recipes out there from lots of different chefs, and compiles them into one. So, when I saw this one, which gave me yet ANOTHER way to work bacon into my food, I had to try it. 

This was very good. The bacon gave the squash just a little smokiness, and was a nice tasty thing to crumble over the top before eating. It had just a little bit of sweetness, and creamy richness. Make sure you give yourself enough time to thoroughly roast your squash...mine took about 50 minutes to get to a stage where I'd be able to easily scoop it out and actually want to eat it. 

After that part, the soup comes together very quickly. It makes awesome leftovers and can be stored in the freezer for about a month.

Here's the recipe, from the Cookbook "The 150 Best American Recipes" - recipe from Tom Valenti's Soups, Stews, and One-Pot Meals

Ingredients (serves 8): 
  • 6 pounds butternut squash
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 slices smoked bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, cut into small dice
  • 3 thyme sprigs, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream (optional)
  • Sugar, if needed
  • Cinnamon, if needed

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds, place the squash halves cut sides up on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide the butter among the hollowed-out seed cavities and generously season the squash with salt and pepper. Lay 1 or 2 slices of bacon lengthwise along the surface of each half. Roast, basting a few times by scoping the butter out of the cavity and spooning it over the bacon and squash until the squash is tender and easily pierced by a sharp knife, 35 to 40 minutes. 
  2. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once cool, mince or crumble into small bits and set aside. Once the squash halves have cooled slightly, scoop out the flesh. Discard the skins. 
  3. Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and coo until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and then add the squash. Cook, stirring to integrate the flavors and keep the squash from scorching, for 1 to 2 minutes. 
  4. Add the broth to the pot, stirring to incorporate. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  5. Using tongs, fish out and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Transfer the soup to a food processor (you can also use a regular blender, working in batches.) Add the cream, if using, and process for several minutes until uniformly thick and creamy. Be careful not to overblend, which will turn the soup thin. If not serving immediately, let cool, cover and refrigerate for a few days or freeze for up to a month. Return the soup to the pot and gently reheat, taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper sugar, and cinnamon, if necessary. 
  6. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and scatter some of the bacon bits over the surface. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve at once.
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