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Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Bacon (Gluten-Free)

Butternut squash soup is one of my perennial favorites. Rich, silky, savory and delicious, butternut squash soup lends itself well to various modifications.

In this case, we've added bacon and a Granny Smith apple to help an already delicious soup to turn a few corners.

This recipe yields a wonderful soup that will delight lovers of traditional butternut squash soup, and maybe even win you some new converts.

Photo: CC--fritishIngredients:
6 strips bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
½ large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and sliced ¼-inch thick
½ cup apple cider
1 quart gluten-free chicken stock
¼ cup dry white wine (optional)
½ cup sour cream
1 pinch ground cumin
1 pinch ground allspice
1 pinch of nutmeg
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a large bowl, drizzle squash cubes with olive oil, mix until well-coated, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat oven to 375 degrees (195 degrees C), and roast squash on a single layer on a baking pan, turning once, until fork-tender and caramelized. About 30 to 40 minutes.

Cook the bacon in a large soup pot on medium-high for about 10 minutes, until evenly browned. Place cooked bacon on a plate, keeping the bacon drippings in the pot.

Add the onion, leek, celery, carrot, potato, bay leaf, cumin, allspice, thyme, butter, salt and pepper to the soup pot, and cook on medium-high in bacon drippings until the carrots and celery are soft.

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Mix in the apples and cooked squash and cook another 5 minutes.

Stir the garlic into the mixture and cook about another minute.

Pour the apple cider over the mixture; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.

Stir in the chicken stock; simmer over medium-low heat for another 20 minutes.

Pureé the soup in small batches in a blender, or use an immersion blender.

If using a regular blender, please be careful! Don't fill the blender more than half-way, or you risk scalding yourself if the liquid escapes while blending.

Tip: When blending hot liquids, be sure to remove the center lid piece of a stand blender so the steam can escape.

Cover the hole with a dish towel while blending. Stir the nutmeg into the soup.

Once the soup is blended and smooth, spoon into serving bowls and garnish each bowl with 1 tablespoon of sour cream and some of the bacon pieces. Be sure to remove fresh thyme springs before serving.

Serve with your favorite toasted gluten-free bread, or a delicious salad, for a wonderful meal.

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