Monday, October 21, 2013

Smoky Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Squash just begs to be pureed, which is why it works so well in soup. Butternut squash pairs nicely with apple, the former's earthiness contrasting with the latter's tartness.

I wanted my soup to have a nice tang, so I added a little balsamic vinegar too. I also wanted some good smoky notes, so, in addition to the bacon, I tossed in some smoked paprika. Cumin, ginger and coriander add some additional spice.

The dollop of Greek yogurt is optional, but I like that it adds a little sour creaminess. Certainly, you could also use sour cream, but yogurt, particularly nonfat, is obviously a more healthful choice.

There are lots of recipes out there for this kind of soup. The recipe I started with was Fine Cooking's, although I've changed it in so many ways that it I don't think this counts as an "adapted" recipe.

Working with a whole butternut squash can be daunting. Although it's easy to use the pre-peeled squash cubes (which I do sometimes), they are more expensive than starting with a whole squash, especially when you want this much. Here's how I recommend dealing with it:

  1. Peel the squash in long strips toward you from the skinny end to the fat end.
  2. Slice off the ends.
  3. Cut the squash in half, separating the round fat half from the skinny half.
  4. Cut the fat part in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp.
  5. Slice the fat parts into 1/2-inch wide strips and then into dice.
  6. Set the skinny part on the cutting board like a cylinder and make a vertical cut to divide it in half. 
  7. Set the halves cut-side down and slice into 1/2-wide wedges.
  8. Cut the wedges into 1/2-inch wide strips and then into dice.

Smoky Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

2 thick strips of bacon (about 1/4 lb.), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium-size butternut squash (about 2 1/2 to 3 lb.), peeled, seeded and and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 yellow onion, diced
Salt, to taste
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. smoked paprika
Freshly ground black pepper, generously, to taste
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used a mix of both)
2 to 3 tsp. balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup chopped scallion greens

1. Heat an enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven, deep-sided sauté pan or other large soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave the rendered bacon fat in the pot.

2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add butternut squash and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and the squash has softened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add apple, ginger, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and pepper, stir to combine and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Add broth, increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in balsamic vinegar. Using an immersion (stick) blender, puree to soup until smooth (alternatively, transfer in batches to a blender and puree). Serve soup in shallow bowls topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of bacon and scallions.


  1. I really liked this soup. I'd recommend going easy on the yogurt dollop so that you can fully appreciate the strong squash flavor. Delicious!

  2. Sounds delicious, love butternut squash. I never thought of the apple, going to add it next time. I like to season mine with curry.

    1. Thanks. Curry sounds wonderful in an apple-squash soup!