Winter Squash Soup
(recipe, Diane Morgan, Dan Taggart, Kathleen Taggart)
Hard-shelled winter squashes such as Hubbard or Danish, and their several cousins, have many fans, including us. Their flesh is naturally sweet and richly flavored. In this soup, squash is cooked with bacon, potatoes, and chicken broth before being puréed. Small uncooked chunks of squash and potatoes are reserved and added to the soup not long before serving to contribute textural appeal.
- 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips (see Note)
- 1 medium to large carrot (4 to 6 ounces), coarsely chopped
- 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion (10 to 12 ounces), peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and coarsely chopped
- 2½ to 3 lb. winter squash, such as Hubbard, Danish, acorn, or pumpkin
- 2 to 3 russet potatoes (1½ lbs in total), peeled and cut in ½-inch dice
- 4 cups Chicken Stock or 2 cans (16 ounces each) low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1½ tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. mild paprika
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley, for garnish
- In a heavy 5-quart or larger pan, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown and renders some of its fat. Add carrot, celery, onion, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened but not browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Peel squash with a vegetable peeler. Cut off top of any whole squashes and set aside, and use a large serving spoon to scrape out seeds. Cut enough squash (including tops) into ½-inch pieces to equal 2 cups and set aside. Cut remaining squash in 1-inch pieces, and add to pan. Add two-thirds of potatoes to pan. Place remaining potatoes in a bowl of cold water and set aside. Add stock or broth, tomato paste, oregano, paprika, and a few grinds of pepper.
- Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook 20 minutes. Purée soup in a blender or in food processor fitted with the metal blade, and return to pan. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings if desired. Ten minutes before serving, add reserved squash and potato pieces and simmer, covered, until they are just cooked but not mushy. Ladle soup into warmed individual bowls or mugs and garnish with parsley.
* Cooks desiring a vegetarian soup may substitute 3 tablespoons olive oil for cooking the carrot, celery, onion, and pepper, and substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth. The smoky flavor of bacon will be lost, but the soup will still have an appealing flavor.