Abigail Cahill O'Brien

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Bacon: Adventures in Flavor Doctoring

In Food on November 2, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Butternut squash has never been my favorite autumnal vegetable.  It’s simply too sweet and mushy and requires much too much doctoring.  The great (or terrifying, depending on your point of view) thing about a weekly CSA box is that your personal produce preferences aren’t given any credence.  So after glaring at two obstinate butternut squashes for a few days, I went in search of a recipe that would render them edible.  Using up an apple and some leeks along the way killed three birds with one stone.

The resulting Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Bacon was good, not great.  The apple and vinegar added citric zest to balance the sweet, but the flavor from the bacon fat somehow didn’t permeate the soup.  The sweet squash still needed balancing.

How about some fresh rosemary?  Well, it looks nice as garnish in the picture but was too medicinal an afterthought, and this is coming from a rosemary hound.  It would have been better to add herbs to the squash while cooking.

Salt, you say?  Sea salt did help, though I wish the Viking Salt I’m expecting in the mail had arrived already – it’s smoky flavor might’ve done the trick.

Cumin?  Bingo!  An eighth of a teaspoon of cumin added to a warm bowl gave just the right flavor depth.

Below is the recipe from Gourmet via Epicurious.  A few variations: I used a gala apple instead of green.  I didn’t use any sour cream or crème fraîche. Rather than transferring to a blender, I used a taller pot and stuck my immersion blender in it.


  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
  • white and pale green parts of 1 large leek, chopped fine and washed well (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1 1/4 pounds butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 medium Granny Smith or other tart apple
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water plus additional for thinning soup
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or crème fraîche


In a skillet cook bacon until crisp and drain, reserving 1 1/2 tablespoons fat. Crumble bacon.

In a heavy saucepan cook onion, leek, garlic, and bay leaf with salt and pepper to taste in reserved fat over moderate heat, stirring, until softened.

Add squash, apple, peeled and chopped, broth, and 1/2 cup water. Simmer mixture, covered, until squash is very tender, about 15 minutes, and discard bay leaf.

In a blender purée mixture in batches, transferring as puréed to a clean saucepan, and add enough additional water to thin soup to desired consistency.

Whisk in sour cream or crème fraîche and salt and pepper to taste and heat soup over moderately low heat until hot (do not boil).

Serve soup topped with crumbled bacon and accompaniments.

  1. Should you ever get another butternut squash, I can send you my curried butternut squash soup recipe; it is delish.

  2. ha! so funny b/c i LOVE butternut. i have one on my counter waiting to be soupified. Here is the recipe i use:

    Curry Ginger Butternut Squash Soup

    Straining this spicy-sweet soup gives the final product a velvety appearance and texture.

    Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

    2 teaspoons vegetable oil
    3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    2 teaspoons curry powder
    1 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
    6 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)
    6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
    2 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled celeriac (celery root; 1 to 1 1/2 pounds)
    2 teaspoons thawed orange juice concentrate
    1 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
    2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 90 seconds. Add curry; cook 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add mirin; cook until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 4 minutes). Add squash, broth, and celeriac; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender.

    Place one-fourth of squash mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed squash mixture through a sieve over a large bowl, reserving liquid; discard solids. Repeat procedure in 3 more batches with remaining squash mixture. Stir in orange juice concentrate, Sriracha, and salt. Dollop 1 tablespoon yogurt over each serving; sprinkle with parsley.

    Nutritional Information
    Calories:176 (9% from fat)
    Fat:1.7g (sat 0.4g,mono 0.4g,poly 0.8g)
    Caprial and John Pence, Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2004

    happy cooking!

  3. try roasting the squash til it’s a wee bit carmelized. then puree. it makes a much yummier soup with greater depth.

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