Healthy, elegant and full of flavor, this Roasted Butternut Bacon Soup is perfect for lunches, casual dinners and meals on the run! It also makes a wonderful appetizer soup served in small, pretty bowls.
You’re going to laugh when you hear where the inspiration for this soup came from. This crazy cook gets recipe ideas from the strangest places…
Scott and I have spent the last couple weeks helping his parents move to a new home. Their new quarters are lovely, but a bit smaller, so we’ve been trying to help them consolidate their belongings. Each day, the two of us have spent a few hours with them, going through cupboards, closets, drawers, cabinets, shelves, actually every nook and cranny! We would designate things to “keep”, “give away” or “trash”.
One day, while cleaning out the kitchen cabinets, my mother-in-law and I came across some lovely white bowls stashed on a high shelf. They appeared quite old, but in perfect condition. Nanny (my mother-in-law) said sadly, “I can’t give these away”. Then she looked at me and said, skeptically, “You wouldn’t want them, would you?”. I looked at the beautiful bowls and said delightedly, “I’d love these bowls!”
Nanny was thrilled and proceeded to tell me the story of the pretty white bowls. She said that, growing up, her mother had a friend named Mrs. Tubbs. Mrs. Tubbs was up in years, “close to 100”, and “a grand lady”. One day, during a visit to her home, Mrs. Tubbs told Nanny to “pick anything you like”. She was moving out of town to be closer to her daughter and had to downsize her possessions.
Nanny looked around and spotted the charming bowls. Mrs. Tubbs was thrilled to give them a new home where they have been well-loved all these years. Now they’ve been passed on to me, and I could hardly wait to serve something fun and delicious in them. When I saw butternut squash on sale at a local market, I threw a few in my cart and ideas for a new soup started swirling around in my head…
See what I mean? Strange things are often the catalyst for a new recipe here at The Café. But I think you’ll be happy that I’m a little strange. The soup turned out delicious and a perfect way to kick off the fall season. It would be wonderful for an appetizer soup or a hearty lunch after an autumn hike. This soup would also make a great a casual dinner served with a simple green salad and loaf of warm, crusty bread. It can be made a day or two in advance and just seems to get better as all the flavors have a chance to meld.
You might be thinking that it’s not a very healthy soup, since it’s called Butternut Bacon Soup. Bacon tends to get a bad rap, but I think it’s a fabulous ingredient, that adds tons of flavor. It just needs to be used in moderation. This Roasted Butternut Bacon Soup calls for four strips of smoky bacon and makes 8 generous servings, so divided up, that’s not much bacon per serving. Plus, there’s squash, which is loaded with great nutrition, along with onions, bell peppers and an apple. The apple adds a touch of sweetness to this wonderfully savory soup.
Everything’s done in one pot except for roasting the butternut squash. I love roasting squash for soups like this because there’s no peeling or dicing involved. Roasting also causes the squash to caramelize a bit adding another layer of delicious flavor. I puree everything together with my KitchenAid immersion blender (I love this little kitchen workhorse!), but a regular blender could also be used.
I wish my lovely white bowls could talk, as I’m sure they’d have lots of fascinating stories to tell about Mrs. Tubbs and days gone by. Be sure to pull out your prettiest bowls and whip up a batch of this silky smooth, Roasted Butternut Bacon Soup. If you happen to have bowls that talk, I’m sure they’ll be chattering to each other about how proud they are to serve this elegant, beautiful soup!
Shopping Tip: Butternut squash is usually sold by the pound. They’re very heavy and can therefore, be quite expensive. If you happen to have an Aldi nearby, you can purchase them right now for $1.89 a piece, a wonderful buy! The squash I used for this soup was 3.5 pounds. The best prices I saw on squash at other stores this week were between between $.99 and $1.29 per pound. The squash I used could have cost as much as $4.50!! (Just so you know, this is not a sponsored post.) I don’t do all of my shopping at Aldi, but I love this store for wonderful prices on produce as well as other items. (BTW, they also have pomegranates for $.99! – whoohoo!)
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large butternut squash, mine was 3.5 pounds!
- 4 strips thick cut, smoky bacon*, cut in half lengthwise and then cut in small dice
- 1 large onion
- 2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1 large golden apple**, cored and cut into chunks - don't worry about peeling it
- 1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- 3-4 tablespoons half & half, optional
- freshly ground black pepper
- crumbled Feta cheese, for garnish
- fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil.
- Place whole butternut squash in microwave and cook on high power for 2 minutes*. Remove from microwave (using a hot pad or clean kitchen towel) and place on a large cutting board. Cut a small slice off the stem end then slice squash in half horizontally. I like to cut about halfway to the center from the stem end, then turn squash around and cut to the center from the wider end.
- Drizzle olive oil on sheet pan. Rub oil with your hands to coat foil, then place halved squash on foil (cut side down) and rub skin with your oiled hands. Place pan in oven and roast 40-45 minutes, until squash is very tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Set aside to cool, then scoop out seeds and discard. Scoop out squash and set aside.
- While squash is roasting, cook bacon over medium heat in a medium large dutch oven until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- You should have about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan. If it’s more, discard anything above 2 tablespoons.
- Continuing with medium heat, add onions, apple, peppers, garlic cloves, cumin, curry and cinnamon to bacon fat. Cook for 8-10 minutes until veggies are softened and onions translucent.
- Add chicken stock and roasted squash. Cook, covered (with lid slightly vented) for 15-20 minutes or until veggies are very soft and tender. Remove from heat, add fresh thyme and puree with and immersion (stick) blender or a regular blender. If using a regular blender, allow to soup to cool for awhile before blending to prevent a messy explosion (caused by steam building up in the blender container). Also, if using a regular blender, leave blender cap off and cover opening with a small kitchen funnel or a clean kitchen towel while blending.
- If desired add a few tablespoons of half and half. It’s really good without the half and half, but it does add a creaminess and also thins it out a bit. Taste and add more salt, if needed and a generous grind of fresh pepper.
- Serve in pretty bowls, garnished with a spoonful of crumbled Feta cheese, a sprinkle of the reserved bacon and fresh thyme leaves.
** This will soften the squash enough so that it will be much easier to cut.