Butternut Squash Soup & Arugula Salad

Butternut Squash Soup & Arugula Salad

It’s cloudy and dizzily overcast, but the weather is warm enough that if the clouds dispersed- it’d be Spring. February’s is almost gone, but until it is, it’s still relatively chilly and butternut squash soup is good for this weather. While it’s simmering, I’ll multitask by taking a nap. This soup is delicious and thick and I’m not really a soup fan because more often than not, it’s mildly flavored water. This has a real depth of flavor because the vegetables are roasted and caramelized. It’s also deliciously filling because it’s similar to a thinned puree, rather than a traditional soup. Any soup after this will have a tough act to follow.

Ingredients: 1 butternut squash, 6 quarts of chicken or vegetable stock (you can make stock from bouillon, which works well in this recipe because the vegetables are such strong flavors), 2-3 pieces of bacon, 4 ounces of “Paleo Butter” 2-3 sweet potatoes, 1 white onion, 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 1-2 apples (these add a good amount of sweetness, so don’t exclude them), (extras: 1/4 cream + 1/4 white wine (don’t use cooking wine) NOT PALEO) Seasonings: salt, pepper, a few leaves of sage, freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat a frying pan for the bacon. While the bacon is cooking, you’ll have time to get the other vegetables ready. Peel and chop all the vegetables: the butternut squash, the sweet potatoes, the onion, the carrots, the celery and the apples. Everything is going to be blended with an immersion blender, so don’t worry about cutting the pieces small or evenly. Large chunks are fine.

Throw everything into a gallon stock pot, along with the “Paleo Butter”  and the spices. Don’t move them around for a moment or two so they can brown well. After one side is done, move the vegetables around so they can caramelize on all sides. This adds flavor and is an extremely important step. If you wanted to add white wine, you can do it now. Allow roughly half to evaporate out so the wine flavor is concentrated into the vegetables.

The bacon should be done by now. More than likely it’s been done for a while, so drain it, crumble and throw some (but not all) into the vegetables. Save some for garnish. Add the stock.  Now is when you would add the cream if you wanted to make it un-Paleo, albeit richer. Allow it to simmer for roughly 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender. Using an immersion blender, puree everything inside the pot until it’s smooth. If you don’t have one, a standard blender is fine, but you’ll have to do it in batches.

Make a side salad of arugula (or other mixed greens if peppery vegetation is not your thing) and dress it with a simple lemon-oil vinaigrette. Make this by combining the juice of 1 lemon, (roughly a 1/4- 1/2 cup, depending on the size of your lemon) with extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top.

Garnish the butternut squash soup with extra bacon and accompany with salad.

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