a creamy roasted pumpkin soup with lots of bacon flavor and a popcorn granola garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Carefully cut the ends off of each pumpkin. Leaving the skins on, quarter the pumpkins. Scoop out all of the seeds. Place the pumpkin quarters onto a baking sheet and drizzle with a generous amount of oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Roast the pumpkin for 30 minutes. Lower the heat to 350°F and continue to roast for another 45 minutes.
Let the pumpkin cool slightly so it is cool enough to handle. Peel the skins off, or use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Discard the skins and reserve the flesh for the soup (you’ll want to end up with 2 pounds of flesh).
Heat a large, heavy-bottom pot (I use my Le Creuset) over medium heat and add the bacon. Render the bacon until it is crisp, stirring often. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving behind the bacon drippings in the pan. Add the olive oil to the drippings and let heat. Add the onions, apples, and sage leaves. Stir to coat and season with a pinch of salt. Let the mixture cook until the onions and apples are tender. Add the roasted pumpkin and chicken stock. Let the stock come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes.
Working in batches, ladle the soup (you’ll want to evenly distribute the solids and liquid for each batch) into a blender. Blend for 1 1/2 minutes, or until completely smooth. Strain the soup into a large heat-proof serving bowl or a clean pot. Stir in the heavy cream. Season with salt to taste.
While the soup cooks, combine the honey and water in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Let the honey dissolve and the mixture come to a boil. Boil the mixture for about 2 minutes until slightly reduced and syrupy. Stir in the popcorn, pumpkin seeds, dried currants, and cooked bacon. Stir very well, making sure that every ingredient is coated with the honey mixture.
Prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Spread a little oil onto the parchment paper. Pour the popcorn mixture into one evenly layer onto the parchment paper. Season with salt immediately. Let cool.
Serve the pumpkin soup warm with a sprinkle of popcorn granola on top.