soup for a hearty lunch

Last week at the grocery store, a package of pre-peeled and chopped butternut squash was calling my name. Well last week pretty much got lost between trying to get over a nasty cold and mentally prepping myself to run the Baltimore Half Marathon on Saturday (finished in 2:19 :-) But the squash was still happily waiting for me to make it into something delicious on Monday night, and this recipe for butternut squash soup found via Pinterest inspired me to whip up a batch of my own smooth and golden deliciousness.

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon (inspired by this recipe for Butternut Squash Soup with Pancetta)

1 & 1/2 tablespoons butter                                                                                                  
1 tablespoon olive oil                                                                                                         
1/2 cup chopped onion                                                                                                        
1 large clove of garlic minced (or 2 smallish sized cloves)                                           
1 & 1/2 to 2 teaspoons dried sage (can use 1/2 teaspoon fresh if available) 
Approx. 1 & 1/5 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
Approx. 1/16 cup sherry (I actually used apple juice as I didn't have any sherry on hand)                                                                                                                                      
2 cups chicken stock                                                                                                         
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper                                                                                         
3-4 slices of bacon                                                                                                           
1/4 cup cream                                                                                                                      
salt & pepper

Butternut Squash Soup Ingredients

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Then add the chopped onion and saute until soft, approx. 4-5 minutes. Next add the garlic and sage and saute for no more than a minute before adding your squash cubes. Let the squash saute for approx. 5 minutes then add your sherry/apple juice, chicken stock and cayenne pepper. Turn your heat down to low, cover your pot and let the mixture simmer for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile cook your bacon according to package directions and then place on paper towels to drain. (Neat tip: Place bacon strips on a cold pan and then turn the burner on. I saw this somewhere and tried it while making this recipe, it apparently keeps the bacon from getting so shriveled while frying ...)

Once the soup is done simmering, pour the contents into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. (If you have an immersion blender, of course you can use that instead.) Once blended, pour soup back into the pot and stir in the cream. This soup can be served warm or refrigerated and reheated prior to serving. This recipe makes approximately 3 servings (perfect for lunch).

Butternut Squash SoupI ate my soup with some fancified cheese toast made from locally found ingredients. The roll I used for the toast was from the Stone Hearth Bakery over on East Street and I purchased the cheddar cheese from Firestone's Market on Market. I'm sorry I don't have a complete picture of my meal but I kind of let the top of the roll char under the broiler, and while it was still incredibly delicious I didn't think it would make an appetizing photo.

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