Sunday, October 21, 2018

Bacon Pumpkin Soup

This is the best pumpkin soup I've ever made!  I've tried a few over the years, but it's been a while because they've all been pretty disappointing.  My husband and I both really enjoyed this one, though.  It's a little sweet since pumpkin is sweet, but does not taste like dessert.  It's just all around delightful and nice and creamy without being too heavy, and of course the bacon crumbles make it extra yummy.
The recipe comes from the blog Spend with Pennies.  My only changes (other than to make a much larger batch) had to do with the preparation, a couple small changes with the seasonings, and I added soy sauce to boost the umami flavor.  It does not taste like soy sauce, of course- you can't identify the flavor as soy sauce at all.
I served the soup with baked butter herb chicken and steamed green beans.  The chicken was just something I tossed together- chicken breasts cut down the middle and topped with butter mixed with dried herbs, a little mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and paprika, then baked in a greased pan at 350 until cooked through.  It all made for a very tasty, perfect autumn dinner.
Below, I wrote you can use either 1/4 or 1/2 tsp nutmeg.  I used the smaller amount because I didn't want to be punched in the face with nutmeg, but next time I'll try using 1/2 tsp because the nutmeg was quite subtle and I think it would work just fine to use the full amount.  I also used half and half instead of cream because the store was out of cream, and it turned out really great that way.  Next time I'll probably use cream, because why not?
I took a bit of a gamble on us liking it because I quadrupled the recipe!  My husband and I are expecting our first child soon and I've been stockpiling food in our freezer, I thought this one would freeze well and be super cozy to enjoy after our baby arrives.  It also only takes, maybe 5 more minutes to make a quadruple recipe, since all you have to do is roughly chop some extra veggies.  You don't have to make them small since they will be blended.
One last thing- I'd like to add that you could easily do this in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.  I would have done that if my Instant Pot wasn't being used for something else already when I made this soup.  We really need to get another one!  Anyway, if you decide to do it in a slow cooker, you could just skip the step of sauteeing the veggies and just add everything except the half and half/cream and cooked bacon to the crock and cook it until the veggies are tender, then proceed with the recipe.  If you go the Instant Pot route, you should probably only try it if you have the larger 8 quart model.  Saute the veggies in the bacon grease on the saute setting, then add the remaining ingredients except the half and half/cream and cooked bacon, then put on the lid, seal it, and cook on Manual for probably 30 minutes.  A quick pressure release should be fine, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Bacon Pumpkin Soup
8 oz bacon
2 large onions, peeled and chopped roughly
2 C peeled and roughly chopped carrots
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 tsp brown sugar
10 C chicken broth
4 16 oz cans pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, the only ingredient should be pumpkin)
4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste (depends on how salty your chicken broth is)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp nutmeg, depending on how much you like it- I used the lesser amount
6 bay leaves
2 C half and half or cream
Set oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, being sure to cover the sides of the sheet with foil.  Evenly spread out the bacon and bake until crisp to your liking and the fat has rendered out.  Remove bacon, pat off grease, crumble, and refrigerate.  Pour the grease (you want about 1/4-1/3 C, this isn't an exact science) into a large pot.  
Heat pot over medium and add onions, carrots, and garlic.  Saute until the veggies begin to soften and turn lightly golden, about 10 minutes.  Add brown sugar and cook another minute.  Immediately stir in broth, then all the remaining ingredients except the cream and crumbled bacon.
Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.
After an hour has passed and the veggies are completely soft, remove the bay leaves, puree the soup well with an immersion blender, stir in the cream or half and half, add salt to taste, and serve with a sprinkle of crumbled bacon.
Yield: About 14 approximately 2 C servings

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