The last time I made butternut squash soup, I took the easy route. Oh, I made a crunchy sage topping, but you couldn’t find me breaking down squash that night. Until recently, I had major problems with my peeler. My old peeler was ok for thin carrot skins, but completely useless when it came to thicker-skinned vegetables. That’s when I turned to the boxed soup version and Costco’s pre-cut bags that spoiled me over the holidays (which, by the way, I completely endorse). Now, armed with my set of three brightly colored blade cutters from Williams-Sonoma, there’s nothing I can’t handle, even after a long day at work.
The slight sweetness of the apple really cuts through the heartiness of the squash, but the flavors blend well. The recipe didn't mention anything about saving the squash seeds, but I rinsed and toasted them, and used them as garnish along with the crispy bacon. A dash of cider vinegar wakes everything up, and even though I only had two slices of bacon in the fridge and no carrots, this soup was still a hit.
Farmhouse Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe adapted from Gourmet
4 bacon slices
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 lb carrots, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
3 thyme sprigs
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Cook bacon in a 4- to 6-qt heavy pot over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.
Add garlic and caraway seeds to fat in pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute. Add squash, carrots, apple, thyme, bay leaves, broth, water, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper and boil, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard thyme and bay leaves.
Purée about 4 cups soup in a blender, in batches if necessary, until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return to pot and season with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Serve topped with crumbled bacon.