Ready in 2 hours
Bacon and veggie lovers can get together on this one. Top with your choice of sour cream, a swirl of heavy cream, fresh-ground black pepper, or freshly grated extra-sharp cheddar, and serve with thick, crusty bread.
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Chop the bacon, onion, leek and garlic. Saute them in a soup pot on medium heat until the bacon is done and the leek and onion are starting to caramelize. Add the maple syrup and spices and stir well. Now add the butternut squash--just dump it in and spread it around a bit to level it off. Now add water (or stock--your choice) to just cover the squash. Add the soup base and stir it all up until the soup base is dissolved. (If you like thicker soup, add less liquid, or prepare to let it cook down later.)
Now, crank up the heat to high and let it come to a boil. Then turn the heat down to something below medium--maybe medium/low--and let it simmer until the squash is tender enough to mash. (You can add a can of pumpkin puree at this point, if you want your soup thicker and less bacon-y. Just stir it in and let it cook for a few more minutes.) You can use a potato masher or potato ricer to smush the squash. If you want it really smooth, break out the food processor or hand blender. (I went for the hand blender, seeing as it performs so well when making Indian food.) Puree the entire thing, add about 1/2 cup of heavy cream, stir *very* briefly, just to swirl in the cream a bit, and serve.
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