This is the perfect dinner party soup. Comforting and a little decadent, it also looks beautiful in the bowl. The combination of sweet, tart, smoky, and brown-buttery is a definite crowd pleaser.
butternut squash, halved and deseeded
medium kabocha squash (or pumpkin), halved and deseeded
olive oil, for drizzling
slices thick cut bacon, chopped
yellow onion, chopped
garlic cloves, minced
large celery stalk, chopped
large carrot, peeled and chopped
sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
pinch of chili flake
unsalted butter, plus more for garnish
sour cream (for garnish)
brown sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 425F. Drizzle the butternut and kabocha squashes with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper on a roasting pan. Chuck them into the oven and roast for about 45-60 minutes, or until fork tender. They don’t need to be “mashed potato” soft, just soft enough for a fork to pierce them.
As they bake, get started on the broth. Over medium heat in a large pot, cook the bacon until not quite crisp, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth, parsley, chili flake, and bay leaf, bring to a simmer and let it cook for 10 minutes or so.
Once out of the oven and slightly cooled, scoop out the soft interior of the butternut and kabocha squashes. Pluck out the bay leaf and parsley and add the squash to the soup. Let it all simmer together for about 10 minutes. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or a regular standing blender. If using a standing blender, pour the soup back in the pot and taste for seasoning. Adjust the salt, pepper, and add brown sugar if it needs some sweetness. If it’s too thick, add a little water until it’s the perfect consistency.
To brown the butter, place the unsalted butter (salted butter will burn) in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let it melt and bubble until it froths up a bit and the white milk solids have turned a nutty golden brown. Immediately add to the soup and stir.
To serve, ladle the soup into each bowl and top with a spoonful of sour cream. Drizzle with brown butter.