Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
There is nothing quite like a bowl of soup, along with some freshly baked rustic bread. My kids love eating, "a whole meal in a bowl," and I must confess, that with four of them, I love the ease of clean up. Fall screams soup to me. The smell of roasting vegetables, the taste of food that's been simmering on the stove for hours concentrating its favors.... What's not to like about soup?
You can make soup from anything, and since stock is one of my five "must have" ingredients, it's always an easy meal.
This particular recipe is one of my favorites. Rich and flavorful, butternut squash is a great soup alternative if you are tired of the usual chicken and beef varieties. It's a great way to ensure a healthy serving of vegetables... And plus? There's bacon. 'Nuff said.
1 large butternut squash
6 full thyme stems
8-10 strips of nitrate free bacon, uncooked
4 cups of chicken stock
4 Gala Apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into roughly 1/4 inch pieces.
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
Preheat oven to 400.
Rinse the outside of the squash, making sure to remove any dirt or particles. Slice off the top, and halve lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and pulp (I hang on to the scoop that comes with most pumpkin carving kits-- it's an inexpensive way to remove seeds and pulp from large vegetables and so much easier than using a spoon). Using a paper towel (or your fingers!), rub olive oil over exposed flesh of the squash and sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Place squash, flesh side down, on a parchment lined sheet of parchment paper. Pierce exposed skin with a fork multiple times. Roast for 30-45 minutes depending in size of squash. You will know its done, when you can insert a fork easily into the skin.
While your squash is cooking, cut bacon in to 1/4 squares. Heat a large dutch oven on the stove and add bacon, reduce heat to medium. Stirring occasionally, cook bacon until just crispy, remove from pan with slotted spoon, and set on paper towels to drain.
Add thyme sprigs to pan. Let them fry for 3 minutes and remove from pan. Set to drain next to bacon. When cooled, remove leaves, and discard stems.
Add leeks to thyme infused bacon grease. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Once done, remove squash from oven. Scoop out inside, discarding skin. Squash should be soft and mushy... add to pan. Stir squash and leeks, add 2 cups of chicken stock. Using an immersion blender, purée squash, leeks, and stock, adding remainder of stock as you purée.
Once soup has reached a smooth consistency, add chopped apples, bacon, and crispy Thyme leaves.
Stir until incorporated. Reduce heat to simmer. Add salt to taste. Soup is ready to be served in 20 minutes.