Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon and Pomegranates

When I think about happiness, I think of Octavian's deep belly laughs or his quiet, calm breathing as he naps on my chest.  I think of his big hugs and his sweet kisses.  I think of all the past travel adventures I've shared with my husband- Nepal being at the top of the list.

And then I think of this soup.

Eating this soup is like falling into a silky soft cloud and warm hugs.

This soup is my happy place.

Last year, when winter hit and I was feeling a bit down in the dumps (seasonal depression, anyone?), I made this soup a lot.  I may have had a screaming baby on my lap, but as long as I had this soup, I knew everything would be ok.  It is my ultimate winter comfort food, minus the butter and chocolate I tend to also crave when it's the dark and cold time of year.

Somehow, butternut squash, some other veggies, a little garlic, milk and vegetable broth blend up into the most cozy soup you will ever eat. 

Now, let's talk preparation.  

It's easy.  So easy.  I chose to chop my butternut squash into cubes and roast it in the oven for approximately an hour before adding it to the pot with the other vegetables.  This step is optional.  You can always just toss in the butternut squash with all the other vegetables and boil all together until mushy.  However, roasted butternut squash has a deeper, more complex flavor, and, in my opinion, tastes better.  So, if you have the time, go for it.  Otherwise, no worries, it will still taste like a dream.

For all of you non-vegetarians, sprinkle with some bacon pieces and pomegranate arils for a little added salty and sweet in each bite (my favorite).  

You can serve this soup with warm bread or a green salad, or just do what I do and eat half the pot... in one sitting.

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon and Pomegranates

Prep Time:  30 min  /  Cook TIme:  1-2 hours  /  Total Time: 1 hour 30 min to 2 hour 30 min
Servings: 6-8 servings


Ingredients

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 small to medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch cubes
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
6 carrots, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into large chunks
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
Bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces (optional)
Pomegranate arils (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together your butternut squash and half of your olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread evenly over two large baking sheets and baking in the oven at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until squash is tenter and just starting to brown at the edges.
  3. Meanwhile, over medium-high heat, add the remaining olive oil to a large stock pot.  Once hot, add the onion and mix. Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent.  Add the chopped garlic and give it another good mix.  Cook for 1-2 minutes more and until fragrant.  Add the celery, carrot, sweet potato, salt and pepper and 6 cups vegetable.  Mix and bring to a boil over high heat.   Reduce heat to low and let vegetables simmer, covered, for at least one hour.
  4. Once the butternut squash is finished roasting in the oven, transfer to your pot.  Continue to cook on low for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
    • note: for soups like this you can't really overcook your vegetables, so no need to set a timer for 30 minutes exactly.  As long as all your vegetables are nice and mushy, you're good to go.
  5. While vegetables are boiling, cook your bacon according to package instructions.  When finished, chop into small pieces and set aside.
  6. When you're ready and your vegetables are nice and soft, remove from heat and grab your best blender or food processor.  Working in batches, fill your blender approximately half full with your vegetable and broth mixture and blend until completely pureed.  Pour your pureed soup into a new pot.  
    • note:  You may want to let your vegetables and broth cool slightly before blending.  If you're in a hurry, make sure to only fill half way and pulse before blending.
    • note: if your puree is too thick or you're having trouble blending, don't hesitate to add more vegetable broth until you reach your desired consistency.
  7. Turn the pot with your pureed soup on low heat.  Stir in the 1 cup of milk (or cream if you want it extra creamy) and add salt if needed.
  8. Serve warm with the bacon pieces and pomegranate arils.

Enjoy!

 

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