Crisp air, falling leaves, and the holiday season are upon us. It may be too early for Christmas music, but it's never too early for cozy dinners with friends and family. A couple of years ago, I wrote about how French onion soup was my favorite comfort food. Okay, maybe it was my senior year of college, and maybe it was four years ago, and maybe I'm freaking out that I've been out of school that long.
French onion soup has cheese, bread, and alcohol. It's hard to beat. But it can also leave me feeling heavy. That's why this bacon-butternut squash soup is my favorite feel-good food. It has all the comfort of soup and will fill you up without so much hearty-ness. Is that a word? Probably not.
It also has bacon in it. And bacon is everything.
In the warmer months, the last thing I want to do is be stuck in the kitchen making a long recipe. Once the temperature drops below 60, that's all I want to do. Even though this takes less than an hour to make, there's something oh so comforting about hanging out in the kitchen on a cold day (preferably in leggings, an oversized sweater, and camp socks that Dixie hasn't chewed a hole in) and having the entire house smell delicious.
There you have it. A delicious smelling home. Good feels. Bacon. Why haven't you already started making this?
Did I mention the bacon?
1 butternut squash (2.5 - 3 pounds)
1 white onion
1 red bell pepper
1 pack uncooked bacon (at least 8 slices), divided
2-3 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
3 cloves garlic (or 3 teaspoons minced garlic)
2/3 teaspoon dried thyme
32 ounces chicken stock
crumbled goat cheese, optional
chopped chives, optional
Prep for cooking. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Peel, seed, and chop your butternut squash into 1-inch chunks. Roughly dice your onion and red bell pepper, and discard the pepper seeds. Divide your bacon in half. Roughly chop 4 slices into 1-inch squares and chop the other 4 slices more finely. Mince garlic cloves (or just buy minced garlic because mincing garlic is terrible).
Toss the Butternut squash, onion, and red bell pepper in a bowl with 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I like to use hazelnut oil).
Lay the 1-inch slices of bacon in a single layer of your baking dish, the pour the squash-onion-pepper mixture in the baking dish over the bacon.
Roast the squash-onion-pepper-bacon mix until the squash can easily be squashed (or mashed with a spoon if you aren't into puns). This will typically take 30-45 minutes. After 13 minutes, check to see if the bacon is good and crispy. Once it is, stir the mixture so the bacon is mixed in and the yummy bacon grease coats the other veggies.
While the veggies are roasting, heat a bit of oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook the remaining bacon. Set the bacon aside on a paper towel when it's good and crispy. Try not to eat it all while cooking or feed it to your dog like I did. Reserve 1 tablespoon bacon grease from the Dutch oven/stock pot.
When the veggies are done, heat the reserved bacon grease over medium heat. Add minced garlic and thyme. Cook until fragrant. Optional: while the garlic and thyme are cooking, mash the squash mixture with a spoon in the pan.
Add squash mixture to the Dutch oven and stir to combine garlic and thyme. Gradually add chicken stock and blend with an immersion blender.
Once all the chicken stock has been added and the soup is blended and smooth, turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Once the soup has thickened a bit, remove it from heat. Serve with goat cheese, reserved bacon, and chives.
Enjoy with a cozy blanket by a fire.