A butternut squash soup that’s creamy, satisfying, and full of all the perfectly cozy classic fall flavors. Perfect as a main meal or as the start of a fall dinner party.
It’s that time of year again when I cannot contain my excitement for cozying up on the couch with a big bowl of soup. Cold weather and soup go hand in hand, especially when the soup contains an explosion of autumn flavors. While chunky stews are great and definitely serve that “comfort food” purpose, there’s nothing better than a smooth and silky soup to warm you up when the crisp November air settles in.
You don’t want to mess with soup ingredients too much. Simple is usually better, but you do want strong flavors that blend well together. I wanted the main component of this soup to be butternut squash because I absolutely love the way it blends into a velvety consistency. I add apples for a little sweetness, and of course because it’s fall and apple picking is a must. A simple mirepoix (onion, carrot & celery) rounds it all out and infuses a lot of flavor into the soup.
Oh, and did I mention everything is sautéed in bacon drippings?
Once the vegetables are soft, it’s time to add the herbs: thyme, sage, and bay. Sage really reminds me of fall, so it comes through the strongest, but it’s not overpowering by any means. As soon as the herbs heat through and release their oils, I add chicken stock to finish cooking the squash. In no time, the soup simmers and is ready to blend. As if it doesn’t come out of the blender creamy enough, I stir in heavy cream for a rich, luxurious mouthfeel. Lots of sharp cheddar cheese adds an indulgent tanginess, while also contributing to the vibrant orange color of the soup.
And finally…no soup is complete without a beautiful topping! I wanted to incorporate the flavors of the soup into the topping, so I quickly sauté some apples with dried cranberries, stir in crumbled bacon that was cooked in order to obtain those delicious bacon drippings, and finish it with more chopped sage. A splash of apple cider vinegar lends some acidity to the topping, while also helping to plump up the cranberries.
This light and crisp combination is the perfect accompaniment for the rich soup.Print
Butternut Squash Soup
creamy butternut squash soup with a cranberry, apple, bacon topping
- 8 oz bacon, diced
- 12 oz chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 5 oz chopped carrot (about 2 small carrots, peeled)
- 3 oz chopped celery (about 1 stalk)
- 10 oz chopped apple (about 2 small apples)
- 2 lb chopped butternut squash (about 1 large squash, peeled & seeded)
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 8 sage leaves, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ½ quarts chicken stock
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 12 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- salt & black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 oz diced apple (about 1 small apple)
- 5 oz dried cranberries (about 1 cup)
- 10 sage leaves, chopped
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, cook the bacon until crisp over medium heat. Transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
- In the same pot over medium heat, add the onion, carrots, celery, apples, and butternut squash to the leftover bacon drippings. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes until the onions are soft, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme, sage, and bay leaves. Cook for a minute longer before adding the chicken stock.
- Bring the stock to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the squash is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Transfer the hot soup to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, working in batches. When all of the soup is blended, stir in the heavy cream and cheddar cheese. Season to taste (I added about 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper).
- Meanwhile, for the topping, crumble the reserved bacon. In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced apple and dried cranberries. Cook for just a couple of minutes (the apples should still be slightly crisp).
- Stir in the bacon and sage to heat through. Add the apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook for a minute or two longer, reducing some of the vinegar.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and spoon a generous amount of the topping over top.
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