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Bacon & beer butternut squash soup

Bacon and beer. Need I say more? Okay, this is a blog afterall so I'll write a few more things. This thick and hearty soup is full of bold flavours - sweetness from the squash, bacon from the bacon, and... uh... beer from the beer.

Really, you don't need me to explain any further.

I love butternut squash in a soup. It's a wholesome comfort food that pairs nicely with so many other ingredients, both sweet and savoury. You can find my recipe for maple roasted butternut squash soup here.

It's not the simplest vegetable to prepare, but it's worth the extra effort. A sharp knife and a sturdy board is all that's needed to cut up a butternut squash for roasting, and the seeds are scooped out with a spoon.

Here's how I made it:

3 1/2 lbs butternut squash, seeded, sliced into wedges, and scored
a generous drizzle of olive oil
a sprinkling of salt & pepper
1/2 lb of sliced bacon, chopped
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 12 fl oz/341 ml bottle of beer (I used a dark beer)
2 cups chicken stock
shredded parmesan cheese for garnish

While my oven preheated to 400 degrees (F), I spread out my squash on a parchment lined baking sheet and generously drizzled the pieces with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. The squash baked for 1 hour until tender and caramelized around the edges, then I set it aside until cool enough to handle and removed the rind.

Next, I added the chopped bacon to a large soup pot over medium-high heat, cooking until crispy. I reserved about a 1/3 cup of the bacon for garnish and set it aside, leaving the rest of the bacon in the soup pot. I added the onion to the pot next, cooking just a couple minutes until beginning to soften. Next, I stirred in the paprika, squash, beer, and stock and let the soup simmer, covered, on low heat for 20 minutes. To finish, I used an immersion blender to get a smoother consistency (a hand potato masher would work too), and served the soup with the reserved bacon and parmesan as garnish.

You could say this is a man's soup. But I loved it as much as any beer-loving, bacon-savouring man. And speaking of loving beer, wouldn't this be lovely with some Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day? Yum!

Is beer just for drinking in your house or does it end up in food? Leave a comment and tell me how you use it!