With Turkey Day looming, and many of you quite likely procrastinators -- hey, it takes one to know one -- I thought I'd share a simple soup that's perfect for the holiday or just this time of year. I served it myself to a dinner party of six last Saturday night and it drew rave reviews. I suspect that's partially because it tastes like it has a whole vat of cream dumped in (though it has nary a drop!) and partially because of the bacon garnish. We all agreed: everything's better with bacon! (Isn't it time the Pork Information Bureau got a new slogan?)
Butternut Squash Soup
This is one of my favorites from Gourmet's mighty cooking tome. The garnish is my own and if you can buy slab, or thick-cut bacon, do so: you can make authentic lardons. If not, then just make do like I did with good quality bacon.
2 TBSP olive oil
1 celery rib, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/2 lb. boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (look for it already prepped)
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp. coarse sea salt
3/12 cups boiling water
garnish: 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch chunks; 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned (10-12 minutes). Add the potatoes, squash and red pepper to the onion mixture, then stir in boiling water. Simmer covered until the veggies are very tender (20 minutes). Purée in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender. To prepare the garnish: Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium, turning once (10-12 minutes or to desired crispness). Spoon bacon into soup bowls, cover with soup and garnish with fresh thyme.