A rich, silky fall soup that will keep the chill away, full of warmth and flavor.
Prep time: 25 min | Cook time: 1 hr 50 min | Total: 2 hours 15 min | Makes about 4 servings
Butternut Squash Purée
1 large butternut squash
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons maple syrup, Grade A Dark Robust for more flavor
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Butternut squash purée (approx. 1 quart if made ahead)
4 cups vegetable stock
Spicy Maple Candied Bacon
1 pound smoked thick-cut bacon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
First, roast and purée the squash. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash on a baking sheet cut side up. Sprinkle diced butter evenly over the squash and add a few cracks of fresh black pepper from a grinder over the top of each squash half. Roast for 35 to 60 minutes or until the squash can be pierced easily with a knife.
Let squash cool until it can be handled comfortably. Scoop out the flesh and blend in a food processor with the maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until smooth. Set aside. (This can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen until ready for use.)
Note: Puréeing the squash beforehand makes it easier to blend into a really smooth soup with an immersion blender vs batch-blending in a blender, but you could make it either way. You can also freeze it to use in lots of other recipes. We like to use the purée as a substitute in our Honeynut Squash Bundt Cake recipe.
To make the soup, heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown on the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic in at the 6 minute mark to avoid burning it. Once the onion and garlic are ready, stir in the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the squash purée and vegetable stock, stirring until well combined. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Purée the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender until smooth. Feel free to add a tablespoon or two of olive oil for an extra silky soup, more maple syrup if you want it to be a little sweeter, and any additional salt or pepper to your preferred taste. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.
To make the candied bacon, mix the maple syrup, brown sugar, and cayenne (optional if you don't want it to be spicy). Dip the bacon strips in the mixture one by one, brushing off any excess, and lay on a rack set on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 °F for about 25 minutes or until the bacon is browned. Remove and let cool until the bacon is stiff, then dice it into small pieces.
When ready to serve, divide between bowls, drizzle crème fraîche on the soup (pull it from the fridge to warm up slightly and stir well so it drizzles easily) and garnish with candied bacon and pepitas.