You can tell it’s Fall when you start seeing posts about soups, apples and pumpkins and other types of squash.
As I was trying to decide which soup to make with the butternut squash I had just gotten, my inbox began filling up with all sorts of delicious soup recipes. I wanted to try them all, but I only had enough butternut squash (and time) for one. I finally chose this soup because it includes layers of comforting flavors: squash, smoky bacon, apple and sage. I enhanced the flavor further by using smoked apple-wood bacon and multi-colored sage from my container herb garden. You can use Granny Smith or any tart-sweet apple for this recipe. The apple I used was probably more on sweet side, but it blended well with the rest of the flavors.
This Butternut Squash Soup is really good! It turned chilly this weekend, and I needed something comforting to warm me up. This soup was just the ticket. It has a smoky flavor due to the apple-wood bacon. Add that to the slightly sweet taste of apple and the nutty flavor of the butternut squash and lookout. I added more pepper so it had a nice peppery flavor as well. This is not like any Butternut Squash Soup I’ve ever made. It has a wonderful depth of flavor.
I’m really enjoying the beauty and the flavor of the multi-colored sage. This was a great recipe to use it in. The sage plant that I used for this soup is a very special plant, not just because of it’s beauty, but because it was home to a family of Brown Thrashers this past Spring. It’s a pretty big plant for a container plant and the female had made her nest in it before I was able to discourage her. The year before, a different Brown Thrasher and I had a time of it because she kept trying to build her nest in one of my tomato plants. I would take the nest out and she would start building it again. She finally got discouraged and built her nest someplace else. I felt bad that she had to do all that extra work, but I didn’t want to interrupt the babies when I watered and fed the tomatoes.
So this year, when I saw the nest in the sage plant, I just left it alone. I was unable to water or access the plant for several weeks, but it was pretty cool to see the momma bird flying in and out of the plant to feed her babies. I could see the plant and the birds from the kitchen window until they all flew away.
Then, one day, one of the Brown Thrashers came back to visit Perry, but he wasn’t there. Perry is my Parakeet, and during the warmer months, I keep him downstairs so he can get some sun and communicate with the other birds. When the season changed, it was a little too cold for him downstairs so I moved him upstairs. The Thrasher was so cute when he came back. He perched on the window sill near where Perry’s cage had been, but no Perry. It was so cute, but so sad.
The birds have flown away into the trees now, but the sage plant lives on. It’s thriving actually. My regular sage plant died last year, but this multi-colored one survived the Winter, Spring and Summer and now the Fall. It did so well, I didn’t bother planting another one this planting season. It’s almost time to bring it in for the Winter…
Butternut Squash Soup with Apple, Bacon & Sage
Adapted from: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/butternut-squash-soup-apple-bacon.aspx
Original recipe makes: 6-7 servings
- 8 slices bacon (I used apple-wood smoked bacon)
- 4-6 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (I used a smaller squash so I only had 4 cups)
- 1 small tart-sweet apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 5 cups low-salt chicken broth
1) Cook the bacon over medium heat in a large stockpot, until crisp and golden, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. I cooked 10 slices to have a couple extra for the cook to enjoy. I only reserved a tablespoon or so of the bacon grease (in the pot) and discarded the rest.
2) Add the squash to the pot with the reserved baking grease and cook on medium-high heat until it is lightly browned. This should take about 4 to 6 minutes.
3) Add the apple, sage, salt, and pepper and cook for an additional 4 minutes or so. You’ll notice that the bottom of the pan will brown more than the vegetables during this process. I was a little concerned about this, but when I added the chicken broth, I just scraped the browned pieces up with a wooden spoon. This gives the soup a deep color.
4) Add the chicken broth and scrap the bottom of the pan to incorporate all of the browned pieces. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce and let it simmer until the squash and apples are soft. This will take about 6 to 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
5) Using an immersion or stand blender, puree the mixture with half of the bacon pieces. Return the mixture to the pot (if you used a stand blender) and taste it. Add more salt or pepper if necessary.
6) Reheat the soup, ladle into bowls and garnish with the remaining bacon. Add more black pepper if desired.
This is definitely not your average Butternut Squash Soup. Try it you’ll like it!