Healthy, elegant and full of flavor, this delicious Roasted Butternut Bacon Soup is perfect for lunches, casual dinners and meals on the run! It also makes a wonderful appetizer soup!
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil for easy cleanup.
Place whole butternut squash in the microwave and cook on high power for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave (using a hot pad or clean kitchen towel) and place it on a large cutting board. Cut a tiny slice off the bottom end of the squash, then set it on the work surface, with the cut side down. Starting at the top, sliced it in half vertically.
Drizzle olive oil on the prepared sheet pan. Rub the oil with your hands to coat the foil, then place halved squash on the foil (cut side down) and rub the skin all over with your oiled hands. Place pan in the oven and roast 40-45 minutes, until squash is very tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then scoop out the seeds and discard. Scoop out the squash and set it aside.
While the squash is roasting, cook bacon over medium heat in a medium-large dutch oven until crisp and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
You should have about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan. If there's more than that, discard anything above 2 tablespoons.
Continuing with medium heat, add the onions, apple, bell pepper, garlic cloves, cumin, curry and cinnamon to the bacon fat in the pot. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the veggies are softened and onions translucent.
Add chicken stock and roasted squash. Cook, covered (with lid slightly vented) for 20 minutes or until veggies are very soft and tender. Remove from heat, add fresh thyme and puree with an immersion (stick) blender or a regular blender. If using a regular blender, allow the soup to cool for a while before blending to prevent a messy explosion (caused by steam building up in the blender container). Also, if using a regular blender, leave the center cap off but cover the opening with a small kitchen funnel or a clean kitchen towel while blending.
Add half and half and stir well. 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 more fresh thyme leaves.
See Café Tips above for further instructions and more detailed tips.