I’m going to call this Mom’s soup because my mom is the best (among other things) soup maker I know. And every fall she made a butternut squash soup with our garden’s plenty that would make the inevitable frigid Vermont winter to come seem more tolerable. Even though the temperature was about to drop below zero for the next few months, there was a plus side–at least we’d get to eat my mom’s soup.
My mom didn’t give me a recipe. In fact, when I asked her how she makes her soup she just said, “Just taste as you go along. You can always alter it. You can’t go wrong.” She also admitted that she would never put bacon in it. Ignoring that last part, I embarked on my own version of my favorite kind of soup.
I was going to make this dish as a first course, but it’s so satisfying that it stands on its own with a loaf of crusty bread. It’s loaded with vegetables, so don’t be afraid to have seconds.
Butternut Squash Soup
- 5 slices applewood smoked bacon
- 5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 2 medium leeks, (white and pale green parts only) chopped
- 4 cups celery, chopped
- 6 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups apple cider
- salt and pepper, to taste
Cook bacon in 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pot and place on a paper towel over a plate to drain. Set aside.
Add garlic to the fat in pot and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until lightly golden brown. About 1 to 2 minutes. Add squash, leeks, celery, carrots and apples. (If there is not enough room in your pot for all of the vegetables, heat 5 tablespoons of butter in a separate pot and transfer half of the vegetables to the new pot continuing the recipe in two batches.) Stir the vegetables and add thyme, sage, broth, water, apple cider, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat the medium-low and let simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Use a ladle to spoon the soup, (which will look more like a stew at this point) into a blender. Puree the soup and return to pot. You will have to work in batches. Always use CAUTION when working with hot liquids.
When all of the soup is a smooth creamy consistency, serve in soup bowls and top with crumbled bacon.