We originally made this soup with a poblano, and it was awesome. We made it again with a jalapeno and it was also delicious, just a little spicier. Use any chile pepper you’d like, just be sure to add it a little at a time if you’re not sure how hot it is. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
Serves 6 – 8
1 large butternut squash, halved and seeded
1 chile pepper (see head note), rinsed
1 thick-cut slice of bacon (2 regular slices)
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
White wine or dry vermouth
1 ½ tsp sweet curry
½ tsp dried thyme
Hearty dash of paprika
1 large bay leaf (or 2 small)
1 quart of chicken broth
Whole milk or heavy cream (optional)
Salt and black pepper
Heat your oven to 350 degrees and adjust the rack to the middle position. Place both halves of the squash face down on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, 45 – 60 minutes. Place the whole chile pepper on the same sheet, or on another pan, and roast until tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in Dutch oven or large soup kettle set over medium heat. When the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pot and set aside. Add the onions and carrots to the pot and sauté until barely tender. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about another minute. Deglaze the pot with a splash of white wine or dry vermouth. Add the curry, thyme, paprika, and bay leaves and about three cups of chicken broth.
When then squash and pepper are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool until you can handle them comfortably. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh of the squash into your soup kettle. Remove the stem and seeds for your pepper, roughly chop it, and add it to the pot as well. Crumble the bacon back into the soup. Using the large wooden spoon, mix and mash it all together. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove the bay leaves.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. (Or use that handy immersion blender.) Return the soup to the pot, adding a splash of milk or cream and more chicken broth to bring the soup to your desired consistency. Finally, season to taste with salt, pepper, and more spices if necessary. Serve.