08 November 2010

*Blush*: Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Bacon

The thing about foodblogging--or many other types of blogging, I suppose--is it's quite a solitary endeavour.

I sit here, alone, in my basement TV temple, my laptop perched on my lap, unfurling my thoughts as I type away into the ether. I never quite ask "is there anyone out there?" I know there is. Who you are is mostly a mystery to me.

Some of my regular visitors are known to me--they comment, email or talk to me via Twitter. Many are anonymous passers by who find me through links, Internet searches or simply by accident. But then there are those who stop by on a regular basis who are quiet voyeurs to parts of my life. I often wonder about this last group--who they are, why they visit and why they return.

Every once in a while someone uncloaks--I always feel a bit honoured when they do. Sometimes when they say "hi," I'm a bit amazed at who's dropped me a line.

Imagine my surprise when I received a note from an editor at CanadianLiving.com, asking me to participate in an article featuring their favourite bloggers. Seriously. Me?

They've followed my pixelated rants and escapades for years and decided to include me with some of food blogging's finest voices and photographers. Angie, Béa, Clotilde, Dara, Hillary, Ilva, Jeanette, Kalyn, Matt, Melody, Paula, Peabody and I all shared some of our kitchen aventures in a piece about ingredient phobias. You can read it here.

A couple of weeks later, I received another note. A writer for Taste Magazine, a local quarterly food journal contacted me for a feature she was pulling together about local foodbloggers. One of her colleagues has read me for a while and suggested that she track me down. And track me down she did. She came to my home and we had a lovely natter over some lemon-blueberry buckle. The article also profiles Charmian and Andrea; we've all contributed seasonal recipes for cold winter months. The magazine's editor was kind enough to flip me a pdf, so I can share it here.

In case you don't have Adobe Acrobat, here's my recipe that appears in the Winter 2010 edition of Taste:

Sweet, tart, creamy and just a little bit smoky, this hearty, cool-weather soup was inspired by Trish Magwood's sweet potato-chipotle soup, Jennifer McLagan's pumpkin and bacon soup, and Molly Katzen's curried apple soup. By leaving out the bacon and sour cream it easily becomes vegetarian-friendly: sauté in oil, use vegetable broth and garnish with fresh sage. Like many soups, its flavour improves if allowed to steep for at least a day.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Bacon
Yield: Approximately 2.5 litres /10 cups

150g (4-6 strips) streaky bacon (or pancetta), chopped
flavourless oil, such as canola or safflower (if needed)
2 medium cooking onions, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2.5ml (0.5 tsp) dried sage
2 garlic cloves, minced
250ml (1 cup) white wine
1kg (2lbs) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
500g (1lb) tart cooking apples, such as Granny Smith or Jonathan, peeled, cored and chopped
250ml (1 cup) apple juice or cider
1L (4c) cold vegetable or chicken stock or broth
cayenne pepper (optional)

To serve:
sour cream (optional)

In a four-litre (four-quart) pot, fry the chopped bacon over medium heat until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked bacon and drain on kitchen towels, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Keep the bacon pieces aside for garnishing.

Add the onions and celery to the hot fat—you may need to add a splash of oil, in case the bacon is particularly lean. Stir occasionally to lift up any browned bacon bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot. After about five to eight minutes, the onions will be translucent. Add the sage and garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, or until the garlic releases its scent. Pour in the wine and stir for about a minute or until the alcohol evaporates.

Add the chopped squash and apples to the pot. Stir well, coating the pieces in the onion mixture. Add the apple juice and enough stock to cover. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer until the squash and apples are easily pierced with a fork—this will take about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes (or longer, if you wish). Purée the soup in a food processor, immersion blender or a jug-style blender until it’s as smooth as you prefer. For a chunky texture, you can mash the ingredients, by hand, with a potato masher.

Return the soup to the stove and simmer over medium heat. Add cayenne (to taste), if using. Balance and adjust flavour to taste: honey to sweeten, white wine or white wine vinegar to add a bit of sharpness, salt, pepper, additional sage or other herbs to round out the flavours as you see fit.

Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream stirred into each bowl; garnish with crisped bacon.

- For a deeper, smokier taste, fry the bacon until soft and do not remove it when you add the onions (etc). Purée all together. Fry extra bacon, for garnishing.

- For a more pronounced apple flavour, use hard cider instead of wine.

- Much of the soup’s flavour will come from the broth. Use homemade if you have it, but store-bought broth, concentrate or bullion cubes work just as well.

- If you are puréeing hot soup in a jug-style blender, remove the centre piece from the lid, keeping a folded towel over the opening. Process in small batches by starting on low and slowly increase the speed. This will help to lessen the steam’s pressure from building in the jug and could reduce the possibility of hot soup exploding from your blender and onto your walls, counter, cupboards and you.



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Patricia Scarpin said...

You go, girl! :D
You look absolutely beautiful on the article - congratulations on the success, you certainly deserve it, J.!

Claudia said...

I shall confess - I came for the soup. Stayed for the words and the lovely acclimations. And I still want the soup.

Christmas Sweets said...

Congratulations on the magazine features! You have a very nice blog so you deserve it. I'm a new follower now. Lastly, thanks for the recipe. Got leftover buttersquash nuts from thanksgiving so it's perfect to experiment on this dish.