I write this from the comfort of a warm bed after work was cancelled today. Iowa roads are a treacherous ice skating rink from freezing rain so here’s a hearty and comforting soup recipe to help warm you all up!
This particular one is a combination between a bacon cheddar soup and my spicy butternut squash soup. Big chunks of bacon, zesty onion, and a blend of aged white cheddar and smoked cheddar make for savory and filling dish that pairs perfectly with an ice cold beer.
(makes 4-6 servings)
1 small butternut squash (about 1lb)
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 lb of bacon
1 rib of celery, finely chopped
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 (12oz) bottle of a pale lager or pilsner beer
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (8oz block) white cheddar, shredded
2 cups (8oz block) smoked cheddar, shredded
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Croutons or toasted bread for serving
The most curious of cats, Evan (not an ingredient for the soup by the way).
While I was shopping for the perfect beer to add to my recipe, the gal in the wine and spirits department recommended Peacetree Brewing’s Ohhh! Pale Lager that was a collaboration between them and the folks at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. They said this beer was the ideal companion to all things bacon and I couldn’t agree more. It added great flavor to my soup and was the perfect beverage to wash it down with!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out seeds and stringy insides, and then brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, place on prepared baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool before handling. This step can actually be done the night before or a few days before. Once squash has slightly cooled off, scoop it out of the skin and into a food processor or blender. Puree until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. It should make about 1 cup of puree. Set aside until ready to use.
In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over low-medium heat until crisp, about 7-8 minutes. Use a fork to transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to cool. Once cooled, break the bacon up into small chunks. Return the saucepan with bacon grease to the burner and add the celery, onion, jalapeno, garlic, and thyme. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until softened. Add half of the beer and cook for 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low while you prep the rest.
In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in milk until no lumps remain and cook for 2-3 minutes or until mixture thickens up. Stir in 2/3 cup of the butternut squash puree and cheeses until smooth.
Add to saucepan with chicken broth and beer mixture along with remaining beer and stir until completely mixed. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Serve with croutons or toasted bread.