By mid February I am so over the cold and slushy snow and cloudy skies. Today’s projected high of 51 might sound encouraging, but one look at the forecast for next week (um, 15 degrees on Tuesday?!) and I’m quickly dragged back to reality.
But perhaps the worst part about winter in the Midwest is the dismal in-season produce at the grocery store. We’re making due with citrus from Florida and apples from Washington. And, thankfully our wonderful co-op still has sweet potatoes and potatoes to pick up. But, I am ready for berries and nectarines and tomatoes!!!
To liven up one of our favorite winter vegetables, I came up with a hearty and tasty soup using bright orange butternut squash and bacon. We special order bacon from Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams in Tennessee. It is well worth the extra expense and long wait time (5+ weeks once we place our order). We buy a lot at once, and I am embarrassed to admit how quickly we go through it. It is great at breakfast, but I love working it into lunch and dinner recipes, too.
Bacony Butternut Squash Soup
4 pieces of bacon, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, split lengthwise, rinsed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 good size butternut squash (at least 3 lbs), peeled and diced
3 cups whole milk (I prefer using raw milk from grassfed cows in this recipe)
3 cups water
Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Drop in bacon and cook until crispy. Remove bacon and reserve on a plate. Do not pour out bacon fat!
Drop leeks and squash into hot bacon fat and cook for a few minutes – just until the veggies begin to soften.
Pour in milk and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is soft (about 20-30 minutes).
Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender. Garnish with bacon bits.
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