Of course the month I vow to start posting again is the month my site is hacked so badly that it’s down for a week. On the very bright side, I finally took some time to refresh the site design and logo. And by took the time, I mean that I lost most of my old files and had no other choice than to start fresh. Which suits me just fine. A fresh site for for a fresh resolution.
Which brings us to this very lovely Squash & Apple Soup with Bacon and Beets. I actually made it for Thanksgiving without testing it out first. How’s that for ballsy? Luckily, it was just perfect. Of course, I did adapt it slightly – using a dash of chili oil for kick, subbing shallots for the onion and creme fraiche for the sour cream.
This soup makes the most beautiful appetizer. Slightly sweet and savory, but balanced by the acidity of the creme fraiche and the spice of the chili oil. The bacon and beets add earthiness and just the right amount of textural contrast. I loved this soup on Thanksgiving and I loved it with my leftovers. A very versatile dish that will work just as well on a holiday table or a Sunday supper in your sweatpants.
Squash & Apple Soup with Bacon & Beets
Adapted from Serious Eats
1 pound beets (about 2 medium) cooked*
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
2 medium shallots, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 pounds delicata squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 1/2 tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cups low sodium canned or homemade chicken stock (might need 1 more to loosen after cooking)
1 – 2 teaspoons chili oil (based on how spicy you want to go. Start with 1 an add on)
1/2 cup creme fraiche (or plain yogurt or sour cream)
3 tablespoons chopped chives
Add the bacon to a large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon has rendered its fat and starts to crisp up. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Discard all but two tablespoons of the fat.
Add the diced shallots and a pinch of salt, and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and ginger, stir well, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and apples, stir well, then add the stock. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, andthen reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the squash is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Using a standing blender or immersion blender, puree the soup in batches until the smooth, pressing soup through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot. Reheat soup and add chili oil, season to taste with salt and pepper, and, if desired, thin with extra broth or water.
Ladle some of the soup into a warm bowl. Add a quarter of the beets and bacon in the middle. Drizzle with some yogurt or sour cream, and garnish with chives. Repeat with remaining bowls.
Serves 4 dinner portions or 8 appetizer portions.
*Note: I am lazy so I used the pre-cooked beets that come in shrink-wrapped packages and can usually be found in the produce section. It’s important to point out here that these are just peeled and cooked, not pickled. Don’t use pickled / canned beets!
If you are less lazy or have a box of CSA beets, you can use the method below to prepare them.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place beets on a rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with coil. Cook until tender or a knife can easily slip into the skin, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, discard foil, and let cool. Peel off the skins and chop into 1/4-inch cubes. To microwave the beets: Place the beets in a small microwave-safe dish, and cover with plastic wrap. Cook for ten minutes. Carefully peel off the plastic wrap, and check if a knife can easily slip in the skin. If not, cook for an additional two to four minutes until tender. When done, let cool for a few minutes, peel the skins off, and chop into 1/4-inch cubes.