Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon, Apple and Sage:
Makes 4 large or 6 -8 small servings
1 large, sweet onion, chopped
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into about one inch cubes
Approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil
5-6 fresh sage leaves, cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade) and divided into 2 piles
4-5 slices bacon, chopped
1 32 ounce carton of low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith. Peel, core and chop 1 ½ apples and save ½ of one apple unpeeled.
Toss the cubes of butternut squash in olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper and roast on a rimmed baking sheet at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large stock pot or Dutch oven until crisp and then reserve cooked bacon. Sauté the onion in bacon drippings with half of the fresh sage for approximately 5 minutes. Add the 1 ½ peeled, cored and chopped apples, roasted squash, and stock. Simmer about 10 minutes to cook apple. Puree soup using a hand blender or in batches in a food processor or blender (do not fill blender or food processor more than 1/3 full of hot liquid.)
Finely chop or julienne remaining apple (leaving skin on) and toss with reserved bacon and sage. If not serving immediately, a little lemon juice squeezed over the apple will prevent browning.
Ladle soup into bowls or cups and garnish with the bacon/apple/sage mixture.
Note: When choosing butternut squash, remember that the seeds are in the bulbous end. Selecting a slender, long-necked squash will give you more squash and fewer seeds. Butternut squash can be peeled with a heavy-duty vegetable peeler. Peeling and cubing the butternut squash allows it to cook quickly; but the squash can also be cut in half, drizzled with olive oil and roasted in the skin for 45 minutes or longer. When tender, the roasted squash can be scooped from the skin and added to onion/sage mixture along with the apples and stock. After cooking the bacon, if the amount of fat left in the pan seems excessive, drain some or all of it off. If necessary, olive oil or butter can be added to sauté the onions.