Butternut squash is delicious, and luckily it pairs really well with bacon. For added smoky notes, I use bacon stock at the restaurant, but you can use any of the liquids noted below. I love contrast of texture, and this smooth, velvety soup benefits from butternut squash seeds and croutons that are toasted in butter to add a nice nutty crunch and the relish that adds sweetness and a touch of acid to cut through the rich flavor.
Lower the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C) and line the same baking sheet with a clean sheet of parchment or foil.
Rinse the squash seeds, removing any strings and bits of squash. Pat dry and place in a small bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil and
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat, add the onion, and cook until soft and lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the roasted garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the squash and cook until the squash begins to deepen in color and dry out, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Using butcher’s twine, stack the sage, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and cinnamon on top of one another, tie together, and add to the soup. Lower the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens and the flavors meld, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat, discard the herbs, and let cool. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg (if using) and honey to taste, if needed. Transfer back to the pot that you cooked it in and bring to a simmer over low heat. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with a large dollop of the relish, the toasted butternut squash seeds, sage, and croutons, if desired. The soup can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator. Reheat over low heat before serving.
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