butternut squash, bacon and barley broth
When it’s cold outside nothing beats a hot comforting bowl of soup for an easy weekday supper, and this butternut squash number is one of the mainstays in our household during autumn. What I like most is that it’s a light broth, and not thick and stodgy like many pumpkin soups – for me there’s nothing worse than a starter reminiscent of puréed baby food. Despite its thinner consistency, this soup is no lightweight when it comes to flavour – sweet butternut squash countered with salty bacon, all mellowed out by the mild nutty pearl barley and deep, earthy broth. This really is a heck of a good soup!
Butternut Squash, Bacon and Barley Broth
1 butternut squash
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup pearl barley
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
1 litre (4 cups) water
250g (1/2lb) unsmoked bacon (or ham) joint
freshly ground black pepper
Peel and seed the butternut squash, then chop into large dice. Remove the rind and fat from your bacon joint.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium flame and gently fry the garlic and onions. Once the onions are tender and translucent, add the nutmeg, cayenne pepper, squash, barley, stock, water and bacon joint, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, skim, then leave to simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the bacon joint and shred the meat, adding half (or more if you prefer) back into the broth. Add the nutmeg and cayenne pepper and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.