I have a special place in my heart for Mark Bittman. When I was teaching myself how to cook (which I did because we had a deal that whoever cooked didn’t have to do dishes and I was getting sick of dish duty), it was the approachable, un-fussy style of his cookbooks that showed me that cooking wasn’t about mindlessly following complicated recipes, but could be about experimenting with what tastes good, making substitutions on the go, and having fun. So when I heard that he had new cookbook out and we’d have a chance to make a recipe from it, I was really excited.
The recipe, for roasted butternut chowder with apples and bacon from Food Matters, didn’t disappoint. It was rich and velvety and the smokiness of the bacon complemented the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash, onions, and apples. It was a breeze to make and, as you can see in the recipe below, there are a few options for how to make it, based on the ingredients you have. For example, we made it without the wine, but with the broth. That flexibility is one of the things I love about Bittman’s recipes. All in all, it was a hearty, delicious soup full of the flavors of autumn.
Roasted Butternut Chowder with Apples and Bacon
Makes 4 servings
Time: About 1.5 hours
Roasting the squash, onion, and apples, then simmering them until they break apart, leaves you with a thick, rich soup that you’ll turn to every fall. Try the mixed root vegetable variation, too; it’s just as good. And to sweeten the pot, add a pinch of nutmeg or allspice just before serving.
1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes
1 large onion, chopped
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 bacon slides, or one 1/2-inch-thick strip slab bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup dry white wine or water
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the squash, onion, apples, bacon, and garlic in a deep roasting pan or on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the oil. Roast, stirring every now and then, until the squash, onion, and apples are tender and browned and the bacon is crisp, about 45 minutes.
2. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Stir in the sage and white wine and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom. If you’re using a roasting pan that can be used on the stovetop, position the pan over 2 burners and put both of medium heat. Otherwise, transfer the contents of the pan to a large pot or Dutch oven and set it over medium heat.
3. Add the stock and cook until the squash, onion, and apples break apart and thicken and flavor the broth, about 25 minutes. You can help the process along by breaking the mixture up a bit with a spoon. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.