the perfect creamy bowl of fall comfort food: caramelized apple squash soup with bacon & hazelnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cover two sheets pans with a piece of aluminum foil each.
2. Spread the hazelnuts evenly across one of the pans. Roast the hazelnuts for 8 minutes until fragrant. Let the hazelnuts cool slightly on the pan, just so they’re cool enough to handle. Use a clean towel to aggressively rub the hazelnuts to remove their skins. Roughly chop the hazelnuts, divide them in half, and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, lay the strips of bacon in one, even layer onto the other baking sheet. Cook in the oven for about 30-35, or until brown and crisp. Use tongs to transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside. Carefully pour the bacon fat into a small bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons. Discard or save the rest for another use.
4. Meanwhile, heat a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the shallots and apples. Sauté until caramelized.
5. Stir in the butternut squash and half of the chopped hazelnuts. Add the chicken stock, thyme sprigs, and sage sprigs. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer until the squash is tender. Lastly, stir in the 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.
6. Working in batches, ladle the soup into a blender. Blend each batch for 90 seconds until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Keep warm until serving.
1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter and let melt. Toss in the apples. Allow the apples to sauté until tender and caramelized, but not mush.
2. Season with a pinch of salt and add the brown sugar. Let the sugar melt and coat the apples.
3. Roughly chop the reserved bacon from above.
4. Serve the warm soup with the caramelized apples on top, along with a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts, bacon, a drizzle of heavy cream, and a pinch of fresh thyme.
Even if you’re just making this for 1 or 2 people, I definitely recommend making the whole batch of soup. It stays well in the fridge for about 3 days, which means it’s perfect for leftovers!