Beat The Cold With This Satisfying Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

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On these cooler, shorter days, it’s hard to turn down a bowl of soup.  It’s my ultimate comfort food; I eat it when I am sick, and I eat it when I am well.  Soup is a canvas upon which to add, well, just about anything. It can be light and brothy, or thick and chock-full of meat and veggies. It can be a meal in itself, calming the mind, and warming the belly.

Now that we are firmly into fall, let’s look to the bounty this season provides. Butternut squash and apples are two of the best that this time of year can offer and lend themselves to a hearty and savory soup. I have made many variations of butternut squash soup over the years, and the best is one that includes apples. Apples fill in the gaps, adding a layer of flavor that carries the squash.

All you need is one big pot where you cook everything.  You’ll start by rendering bacon and cooking the vegetables in the delicious fat, then add the stock, salt, and other seasonings.  A blender is needed for this recipe, and I implore you to invest in an immersion blender as it just makes everything so easy as you blend right in the pot.

And don’t forget the toppings! I love bacon, so having bacon as a topping makes perfect sense, and does sour cream, giving everything a creamy tang, but omit one or both if you wish. To fancy it up, take advice from The Epicurious and make apple matchsticks as part of your topping repertoire. You can watch a video on how to make them here.

INGREDIENTS

8 servings (about 8 to 9 cups)

6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ pound boiling potatoes
2 medium Granny Smith apples (about ¾ pound total)
1½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces (3½ to 4 cups)
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock or broth
2 to 2½ cups water
Sour cream to garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook bacon in a 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving 2 tablespoons fat in pot. (Don’t throw it away!) If your bacon doesn’t render a lot of fat, then add some vegetable oil.
  2. Cook celery, carrot, and onion in fat in pot over low heat covered, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add cinnamon and cook, uncovered, stirring for 1 minute.
  3. While vegetables are cooking, peel potatoes and coarsely chop. Peel and core 1 apple and coarsely chop.
  4. Stir squash, potato, chopped apple, stock, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper into onion mixture, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Puree soup in 4 batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids), then heat in a cleaned pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. You may need to add another ½ cup of water to thin the liquid. Or, use an immersion blender if you have one.
  6. While the soup is heating, cut enough of the remaining apple into thin matchsticks (about 1½ inches long) to measure about ½ cup.
  7. Serve soup topped with sour cream (if using), bacon, and apple matchsticks.

NOTES

The soup can be made 2 days ahead. Make sure you cool it completely before you cover it and place it in the refrigerator. The cooked bacon can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container, Just reheat it in a 375°F oven in a small baking pan before serving.

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