Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Smoky-Roasted Chickpeas and Bacon is a rich and comforting soup that’s dairy-free, gluten-free, and freezer-friendly too!
First thing’s first – THE SOUP IS SUPPOSED TO BE THAT COLOR (I am unashamedly all about using capital letters these days. Gosh it really gets your point across. Except when you’re texting on your iPhone and concentrating so hard on the tiny little keyboard that you fail to notice your caps lock has been on the entire time but ughhhh, it took you so long to type that you send it anyway with the disclaimer “minus the caps lock.”)
So I excitedly showed Ben the first image in this post the other day saying, isn’t it pretty? I guess this is coming from someone who thinks Green Smoothies are one of the most gorgeous things on earth while others think they look like blended grasshoppers. I’m falling down a rabbit hole here, people. My point is, I love visually vibrant food like this deep orange soup. Anyway, he goes, um, the color’s weird? I nearly died. It’s butternut squash soup! I replied! Oh. Is all he said in return.
Oh anyway, this soup. Fall in a bowl. Roasted butternut squash. Smoked paprika. Bacon. Maple syrup. Leeks. Did I mention bacon? I felt a wave of happiness wash over me while making this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Smoky-Roasted Chickpeas and Bacon. The back door was open and a cool breeze was whooshing in. The kitchen could NOT have smelled more delicious, and the prospect of a warm bowl of comforting, creamy soup had me at near tizzy level. I know, hard to imagine.
This easy, dairy-free, gluten-free, and freezer-friendly soup is slow-roasted (bright-hued!) butternut squash blended with caramelized leeks and garlic, a drizzle of maple syrup, smoked paprika, and chicken broth, then topped with savory bacon and crunchy smoky-chickpeas. Smoky, savory, and naturally sweet from the near-perfect food otherwise known as butternut squash. As I said, fall in a bowl with the texture of velvet.
That said, here’s the thing about creamy soups: they make me sad. Where’s the crunch? Research has shown that chewing increases satiety, which would explain why a couple years ago I lasted eight hours into a three day juice cleanse before demolishing an entire batch of juice cleanse killers. I missed chewing! But Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Smoky-Roasted Chickpeas and Bacon is so delicious… What’s a girl to do?
Add bacon and crunchy smoky-roasted chickpeas, of course! If you’ve never had roasted chickpeas your life is about to change. They become crunchy in the oven and are perfect in recipes like power bowls and salads…and sprinkled on top of this soup.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Smoky-Roasted Chickpeas and Bacon is simple and inexpensive, to boot. And dairy-free, which a lot of butternut squash soups aren’t. I don’t think this soup needs cream – at all – and I purposely gave it a whirl without it so I could feed some to Lincoln who is allergic to dairy. He (and we!) loved it!
Start with 4lbs butternut squash which was 2 small-ish butternut squash for me. Grocery stores and Farmer’s Markets are exploding with this sweet squash right now which means they’re in-season and inexpensive. Butternut squash is for sure my favorite fall squash varietal. It’s hint of natural sweetness and silky smooth texture cannot be beat!
I acknowledge that there are TONS of ways to roast a butternut squash, but here’s how I’ve always done it:
Butternut squash are notoriously hard so to make them easier to slice open, pierce the bulb end two or three times then microwave for 1-1/2 minutes. Next, use a large, sharp knife to cut the squash in half lengthwise, then scoop the seeds out with a spoon.
Place the squash halves cut side up on a nonstick sprayed baking sheet then brush with extra virgin olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 45-60 minutes at 400 degrees or until a knife inserted into the thickest part of the squash goes in easily. Look how gorgeous and caramelized they turn out!
Tip: If the squash starts to burn before it’s tender, simply lay a piece of foil on top of it in the oven.
Before popping the squash into the oven, drain then rinse 1 can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans.)
Rub the beans very dry in a kitchen towel then pour onto a baking sheet and toss with 1-1/4 teaspoons smoked paprika and 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil. Pop them into the oven with the squash then roast for 25-30 minutes or until crunchy, shaking the pan every 10 minutes to prevent burning. The chickpeas will continue to crisp as they cool, FYI.
Meanwhile, get the soup base started by crisping 6 slices bacon in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain then remove all but 2 Tablespoons bacon grease from the pot.
While the bacon’s crisping, prep 2 large or 3 small leeks. I. Love. Leeks! They have a mild onion flavor and are so, so yummy.
You’ll just need the white and light green parts of the leeks, so trim ‘em then slice in half, and then thinly slice.
Add the leeks to the bacon grease, season with salt and pepper, and then saute until golden brown and tender, 7-10 minutes. Add 2 minced garlic cloves then saute for 1 more minute.
Transfer the leeks to a blender along with 1 Tablespoon maple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika. Squash are like people – each one is completely different. Point being, butternut squash is a sweeter squash, but the sweetness level is different for each squash. That’s why I recommend only using 1 Tablespoon maple syrup to start out with, then adding more at the end if you want a sweeter kick to your soup.
And, although I’m only adding 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, you can totally taste it and the hint of smoke is fantastic!
At this point the butternut squash should be close to being done. Seriously just love that color!
Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skin then add it to the blender along with 2 cups chicken broth (may need to do this in 2 batches,) and then blend until very, very smooth.
Pour the soup back into the soup pot, add an additional 1 cup chicken broth, and then cook on low for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and/or maple syrup, then ladle into bowls and serve with the crisped bacon and crunchy smoky-roasted chickpeas. Fall soup perfection!
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Smoky-Roasted Chickpeas
2 small butternut squash (about 4lbs total)
extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper
15oz can garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika, divided
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 large or 3 small leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped in half then thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 Tablespoons maple syrup (depends on how sweet you want your soup)
3 cups chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce bulb ends of butternut squash with a sharp knife then microwave for 1-1/2 minutes to make them easier to cut. Cut in half lengthwise with a sharp knife then remove seeds with a spoon and place cut-side up on a nonstick sprayed baking sheet. Brush or mist with extra virgin olive oil then season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Drain chickpeas then rinse and pat dry with a towel (the dryer the better.) Pour onto a baking sheet then add extra virgin olive oil and 1-1/4 teaspoons smoked paprika and then toss with your hands to coat.
- Place baking sheets into the oven. Roast butternut squash for 45-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the thickest part of the squash goes in easily. If squash starts burning before it’s tender, lay a piece of foil on top. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Roast chickpeas for 25-30 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan every 10 minutes, or until crisp (beans will continue crisping as they cool.) Sprinkle with salt then set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, crisp bacon in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat then remove to a paper towel lined plate to train. Remove all but 2 Tablespoons bacon grease from pot then add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 7-10 minutes, or until leeks are golden brown and tender, then add garlic and saute for one more minute. Transfer mixture to a blender then remove pot from heat and add maple syrup and remaining 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika to blender.
- Scoop butternut squash flesh out of the skin with a spoon then add it to the blender along with 2 cups chicken broth (may need to do this in two batches.) Blend until very smooth then pour back into soup pot and turn heat to low. Stir in remaining cup chicken broth then cook on low for 10 minutes. Taste and add remaining tablespoon maple syrup, salt, and pepper if desired. Serve topped with cooked bacon, smoky-roasted chickpeas, crostini and/or fresh bread.
- To freeze: Cool soup then scoop into a freezer bag and freeze flat. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then reheat on the stove (may need to add more chicken broth to thin out a bit.)
I loved the texture the bacon and smoky-roasted chickpeas gave this velvety, sweet and smoky soup, but a hunk of fresh bread or easy crostini make the bowl even better (I use Against the Grain gluten-free baguettes.) Enjoy, enjoy!