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Friday, February 13, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with an Iowa Twist

Nothing says winter food quite like winter squash. From pumpkins to acorn squash, I love them all. One of the most popular winter squash is the butternut. It's a firm squash and holds it's shape well, making it a great squash for roasting. I love tossing some cubed butternut squash and potatoes and roasting them alongside a pork loin or turkey breast. Butternut squash lends itself well to both savory and sweet preparations and makes a great "pumpkin" pie.

Butternut squash also makes a very wonderful soup! Roasting first brings out it's sweetness and sauteed onions and herbs combine to make a delicious and filling fall soup. This soup is a little lighter than some recipes, with no added heavy cream, and gets a little Iowa personalization with the flavor boost from bacon. Iowa pork farmers are proud producers of some of the best bacon in the world. This soup makes a great first course, a light lunch or a great dinner by the fireplace with a thick and gooey grilled cheese on hearty artisan bread.

Let's make our Iowa Butternut Squash Soup! You will need-
  • 8 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • olive oil
  • several sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 6 slices bacon
Melt the butter in a shallow roasting pan. Add the cubed squash, toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 375 degree oven until tender but don't let the squash brown. Remove from the oven and set aside. I am using butter-
nut squash that I had canned previously, so I can skip the roasting step. I still want to season with salt and pepper though.

In a large stockpot heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, season again with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until translucent and tender. Add the thyme sprigs, the cubed squash and chicken stock and simmer for about 20-30 minutes.

While the soup simmers, prepare the bacon. Cut the bacon slices into lardons. Cook in a skillet until crisp and browned. Remove to a paper towel and let drain. Add a teaspoon of bacon drippings to soup.

Remove the thyme sprigs from the soup. Using a food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Return to stockpot. Reheat over low heat.

To serve, ladle into bowls, sprinkle with the crumbled bacon and additional thyme leaves or chopped chives. 

This soup just screams comfort to me. I have loads of quarts of butternut squash canned in the pantry so it's super easy to get dinner on the table- just drain, drizzle with butter and give it a quick roast and you're ready to go. With all this bread-baking I've been doing, this soup is going to be a mainstay for the winter. I'm going to switch it up and use Hubbard squash, Delicata and some of the other squash I have stored away too!

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