LAST SUMMER was the first in many that I didn’t plant Butternut Squash. What a grave error on my part. Just two of these tan-skinned beauties, purchased at my local organic farm store, cost a jaw-dropping ten dollars. This was hardly a waste of money, however, for I turned the squash into the million dollar soup you see pictured above. You might like to make this golden glee for Thanksgiving. You can prepare it days in advance.
And speaking of Thanksgiving…I hope you’ll consider A Garden for the House your source for holiday menu ideas. You will find lots of rave-worthy recipes here, including appetizers, main-courses, and desserts.
Now, onto the soup:
Caramelized Butternut Squash Soup
Ingredients for about 3 quarts soup
One large (4-lb) butternut squash (or two smaller ones)
8 slices bacon , cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
5 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dry sherry
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional: Fresh thyme leaves for garnish
Special Equipment: a heavy-bottomed 4-quart pot or Dutch oven; a food processor with metal blade attached
Place the cubes, which look for all the world like cubes of cantaloupe, on a foil-lined baking sheet. To mitigate the slightest chance of sticking while baking, first spray the foil with non-stick spray. Then drizzle on just enough olive to lightly coat the cubes. Give them a toss with your hands to insure that all pieces are coated.
Bake for exactly 45 minutes in the preheated 375 degree oven. When done, the cubes should be perfectly tender and just slightly colored.
While the squash is caramelizing, place the cut up bacon in the pot, and let it cook over a low flame until fat is rendered, about 8 minutes. Stir the bacon from time to time, and watch that is does not color, let alone burn.
Add the the chopped onions, the salt, the pepper and the thyme to the bacon. Stir about with a wooden spoon to coat the onion with bacon fat. Then cover the pot and let the onions slowly sweat over a low flame, until they become tender and translucent, about 20 minutes.
Pour the onion mixture into the bowl of your food processor, add a cup of chicken stock, and process for about 30 seconds. When perfectly pureed, it will look rather uninteresting, as the photo above indicates. But just you wait.
As the onions process, rinse out the cooking pot. You don’t want any little bits of onion or bacon sticking to it. Return the now-pureed onion and bacon mix to the pot.
Add the puree to the cooking pot, and stir to blend with the onion mixture. Add also the remainder of the chicken stock. Slowly bring the soup to a simmer over a low flame.
Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes. Don’t forget to inhale its luscious perfume.
You’ll be happy to know that you can make this soup days in advance. Just omit the cream until ready to serve. Keep the soup covered and refrigerated.
And my, what a useful soup to have around! I’ve enjoyed it for breakfast and lunch, sipped from a mug. When serving the soup as the first course for dinner, I ladle it into little two-handled soup bowls. With such bowls, no spoon is required for a puree of something-or-other. I’ll have you know I verified this with Emily Post. We’re tight, Emily and me.
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