Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Bacon

Serves 6 to 7

8 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4″ strips
2 ½ lb. butternut squash (about 1 medium), peeled, seeded, and cut into ½” dice (about 6 cups)
1 small Granny Smith or other tart-sweet apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ½” dice (about 1 cup)
1 ½ T. finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 t. kosher salt
!/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
4 cups homemade or low-salt chicken or vegetable broth

In a 5 qt. or larger stockpot set over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a plate lined with appear towels.

Increase heat to medium-high.  Add the squash to the pot with the bacon fat and cook until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes (resist the urge to stir it too often or it won’t brown).  Stir in the apple, sage, salt, and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes (you’ll see more browning occurring on the bottom of the pot than on the veggies).  Add the broth, scraping up any browned bits in the pot with a wooden spoon.  Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the squash and apples are very soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool somewhat.

Add about half the bacon to the soup and puree, using a stand or immersion blender.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.  Reheat the soup and garnish each serving with the remaining bacon.

Fine Cooking, November 2005

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