When I first came back from my visit to Atlanta to see Caroline, I mentioned that we had many tasty food reunion moments, including wonderful coffee and my splurge purchase of a Southern cooking bible. Today we are finally going to wrap up that visit. This blog has indeed suffered from my good luck in finding a job, as I’ve wriggled into my brother’s home and tried to get used to an hour-long commute – all the while feeling rather chirpy that I’m getting paid a full-time wage again. So let me apologize by offering up Caroline’s favorite soup.
I had heard about this soup more than a month before I arrived, and it was totally worth the hype. Caroline served it to her boyfriend’s parents for Thanksgiving, and I just made it again yesterday for my sick brother and sister-in-law. This soup is comforting and good for even picky eaters. It has a base of squash, but it’s not at all boring. With your favorite fatty pig product, tomatoes, and chicken broth, this soup develops surprising layers of flavor. When someone says squash soup, I think ho hum. But even my sister-in-law was surprised. Her first reaction was yeah, it’s good…then the next flavor notes chimed in and she started paying more attention to her bowl.
A lot of these adaptations come from Caroline and her super smart palate. Originally this recipe calls for pancetta. In Atlanta (pictured), we used ham steaks because…well, why not? I used bacon the other day because it was on sale. All versions? Amazing. Play around with it.
This was originally meant to be boiled butternut. Caroline uses acorn squash and roasts it with butter and maple syrup. It adds another layer of flavor that isn’t really independent – it just deepens the squash flavor and rounds off the edges of the other, more acidic ingredients. I used brown sugar because again… it was on sale.
So let’s have some soup.
Squash, Tomato, and Bacon Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes 6 hearty servings
2 pounds squash of your choice – I prefer acorn
2 Tbsp butter
1 or 2 Tbsp brown sugar
Dash of cinnamon
5 oz bacon, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped fine
7 1/2 c chicken stock
2 c canned diced tomatoes, with all their juice
3/4 c cornmeal
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cut your squash open, scoop out the seeds, butter the insides and sprinkle the brown sugar inside (or maple syrup, depending on what you have on time). Add a light sprinkle of cinnamon. Roast for about 30 minutes, until it is just cooked through – think par-roasted.