Turkey Day Flavor

These soup shots turned out super yummy and everyone dug the spicy/sweet bacon, especially the kids who created the festive backdrop for our feast. I definitely recommend creating extra bacon!
Butternut Squash Soup "Shots" with Candied Bacon
3 pounds (about 3 medium) butternut squash                 Candied Bacon
2 large leeks                                                                     1 pound sliced bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil                                                        1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon curry powder                                              1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups chicken broth or stock                                         1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Candied bacon, as garnish
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise and place face down in a baking dish with edges. Pour about 1/2 inch of water into the pan. Bake 40 minutes or until fork tender. Let cool enough to handle.
  2. While squash is baking, trim leeks, slit lengthwise and wash thoroughly to remove all grit. Chop roughly. (Save the top, tough green part for making stock, if you wish.) Heat olive oil in a soup kettle and add leeks. Sauté for a few minutes, tossing with a wooden spoon. Add curry powder and cook another minute.
  3. Scoop out squash flesh. Add to the pot with the leeks and curry. Add chicken stock, ginger, maple syrup and salt. Cook at a simmer for about 30 minutes, to cook leeks and marry the flavors. Using an immersion blender, a blender or a food processor, working in batches if need be, puree the soup. (Except for the bacon, this can be made a day ahead and gently reheated.)
  4. Serve with a half slice of bacon in each small cup. Makes 12 small servings with leftovers for the cook.
Candied Bacon 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. While the oven heats, cook bacon in a heavy skillet over moderate heat. You'll need to do this in two batches to keep from crowding the bacon. Cook until lightly browned but not crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. While bacon is cooking, combine sugar, cayenne and black pepper.
  2. Lay partially cooked bacon on a baking sheet lined with brown paper or parchment. Thoroughly coat bacon strips with sugar-pepper mixture. Bake for 5 more minutes, or until sugar is caramelized and bacon is crisp. Transfer to clean brown paper to cool. (Don't use paper towels - the candied bacon will stick to them.)
  3. Break slices of bacon in half and serve half a slice in each "shot" or cup of soup. (This will hold for a few hours, but if you make it the day before, it will go limp.)

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