Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup with Swiss Chard & Bacon

I have to tell you that I ate the best dinner last Saturday night at Monocacy Crossing in Frederick, Maryland.  My husband took me and my son out to celebrate my birthday.  I had the Pork Tenderloin with Sage-Cider Sauce and Scalloped Potatoes, my son had the Crispy Buttermilk Chicken Breast with Tasso Ham Gravy and my husband had the Herb Topped Salmon over Warm Potato Salad with Bacon and Horseradish.  We all swooned over our meals but for me the best part was my soup.  It was a Butternut Squash Soup with Swiss Chard and Bacon.  I left there with a strong desire to make that soup at home.  I did just that this morning. I started with a recipe for Brodo (Broth) with Butternut Squash, Swiss Chard and Bacon by Betty Rosbottom that I found on a website.  I knew that the recipe needed some changes to satisfy my needs.  I added some skim milk and left out the pasta that the original recipe called for.  I also needed to add a tablespoon of flour to thicken up the soup a bit.  We have not tried the soup yet but it smells heavenly.  This is my version of Monocacy Crossing's delicious soup.

Butternut Squash Soup with Swiss Chard & Bacon
Makes 6 Servings
Prep time:  30 to 40 minutes

Make ahead:  Homemade or store-bought chicken stock

1-1/2 - 1-3/4 lb. (750 g to 875 g) butternut squash
1 bunch (about 12 oz. / 375 g.) Swiss chard, preferably with dark green leaves and red stalks
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm.) pieces
1-1/3 cups (340 ml) onion, chopped
8 cups (2 liters) homemade or store-bought chicken stock
1 cup skim milk (or 3/4 cup heavy cream)
1 tablespoon flour (if using skim milk)
salt to taste
1 to 2 pinches cayenne pepper
1/2 cup (125 ml) Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated

Using a large sharp knife, halve the squash lengthwise, scoop out and discard the seeds and membranes.  Cut each half lengthwise into 4 segments.  Using a vegetable peeler or small sharp knife, peel the segments and then cut them into 3/4 inch (2-cm) cubes.  Set aside.

Rinse the chard and pat dry.  Cut off and discard the stalks.  If the ribs on the leaves are more than a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick, cut them out and discard.  Coarsely chop the chard to yield about 4 loosely packed cups (1 liter).

In a large pot set over medium high heat, saute the bacon pieces until they are golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.  Pour out all but 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the bacon drippings and return the pot to medium heat.  When hot, add the onions and saute, stirring until golden brown, 3 minutes.

Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the squash and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.  Once the squash is cooked, use an immersion blender or put soup carefully in a blender.  After blending, add the milk or cream and the flour.  Cook the soup another 5 minutes but do not boil.  If the flour gets lumpy just use the immersion blender to remove the lumps or put the soup back into the blender for a minute or two.  Pour soup back into the pot (if using a blender) then add the chard and cook until it wilts, for 1 to 2 minutes more.  Taste and season with salt and cayenne pepper.

To serve, ladle soup into 6 shallow bowls.  Pass around the bacon pieces and grated cheese separately in bowls.


The Creative Cook