1 small handful fresh sage & thyme sprigs, tied in kitchen twine
freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 small handful fresh sage leaves
½ cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp heavy cream
Heat a 5 ½ qt Dutch oven (or heavy bottomed pot) over medium-high heat. Add the diced bacon. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for about 8 more minutes, or until the bacon is crisp. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Carefully spoon out some of the bacon fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pot.
Add the shallots over medium heat. Cook for about 3 minutes until softened. Stir in the apples and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the apple cider vinegar.
Add the butternut squash, stock, herbs, lots of freshly cracked black pepper, and another pinch of salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the squash is soft.
Meanwhile, heat a 10” skillet over medium-low heat. Add the butter and let it melt. Add the sage leaves. Cook for a couple of minutes until the sage is crisp and the butter is starting to brown. Spoon the sage out onto the plate of bacon to drain. Quickly add the pecans and toast until fragrant. Season with a pinch of salt.
Ladle the soup into a large blender and blend until smooth. Transfer the soup back to the pot, stir in the cream, and season more if needed. Serve the soup warm with the bacon, pecans, crispy sage, any extra thyme leaves, and more black pepper over top.
Bacon tip: Freezing your bacon for 15-20 minutes helps it firm up so you can dice it much more easily.