Butternut Squash-Carrot Soup with Pork “Croutons”
A garnish of pork “croutons” adds a savory note to this autumnal soup. The croutons are easy to make: cut a slab of pork belly into small batons, then cook them in a bit of olive oil on the stovetop until crispy.
- 1 large butternut squash, about 3 lb., peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 10-oz. slab pork belly, cut into batons about 1/2 by 1/2 by 1 inch
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 Tbs. chicken stock concentrate mixed with 6 cups water
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Preheat an oven to 450°F.
In a large bowl, stir together the squash, carrots, the 2 Tbs. olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are browned and tender, about 45 minutes. Set aside.
In a 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the 1 tsp. olive oil. Add the pork belly and cook, stirring occasionally, until rendered and browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Discard the fat in the pot and wipe out the pot with paper towels.
In the same pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and apple and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, thyme sprigs and bay leaf, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
Working in batches, puree the apple-stock mixture with the roasted vegetables in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls or cocottes. Garnish with the parsley and pork belly croutons and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.