We’ve been on a bit of a library spree lately. Every time we see a cookbook that even sounds halfway interesting, it gets checked out from the library for review. We can’t afford to buy all of the cookbooks we want, so checking them out is a great way to spend a week or two with the book, go through the recipes, and see if the cookbook passes the “to buy” test. Out of maybe two dozen cookbooks we’ve checked out so far, only three of them have made the cut, but those three were well worth it. Today’s recipe comes from a cookbook that’s passed the test.
Fat is a cookbook about… well… fat. Consider this excerpt from the jacket:
“For all of history, minus the last thirty years, fat has been at the center of human diets and cultures. When scientists theorized a link between saturated fat and heart disease, industry, media, and government joined forces to label fat a greasy killer, best avoided. But according to Jennifer McLagan, not only is our fat phobia overwrought, it also hasn’t benefited us in any way.” –Fat
I’m not going to go off on a soapbox (much) about fat, except to say this: my grandmothers cooked with lard and butter. It was my parents’ generation that demonized those two fats and decided that margarine was the way to go. I’m not a doctor, and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but from what I’ve read, I’m not convinced that animal fats are the demon so many people thought they were. Some well placed fat is an essential part of a healthy diet, even for someone training for a triathlon or running marathons (like us).
Today’s recipe uses one of my favorite fats – bacon fat. Despite the fact that the recipe comes from a cookbook called Fat, there’s actually very little fat in the recipe. Each serving has a mere 120 calories and 2 grams of fat. So this is a recipe you can feel good about eating.
- 1/2 lb or 4 slices of bacon, diced
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 stalks of celery, sliced
- 1 large sprig of sage (or four large sage leaves)
- 1 kabocha squash, seeded and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 8 cups water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large soup pot over low to medium-low heat, cook the bacon for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to render the fat.
- Add the onion, celery, and sage and stir to coat in the bacon fat.
- Cook for 7 more minutes or until the vegetables are starting to soften.
- Add one cup of water to the pot and stir to deglaze the pan.
- Add the remaining 7 cups of water, the squash, and some salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30-45 minutes.
- Remove the sage and discard.
- Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor and taste for seasonings.
Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 120 calories, 1.9 grams of fat, 24 grams of carbs, 6.5 grams of fiber, and 4.5 grams of protein.
Notes: This was a great soup. Smooth, rich, and flavorful, I could really taste the bacon. You can go any number of ways with this soup. If you love a smoky flavor, get your bacon from Sea Breeze Farm. Their slab bacon is well smoked, and that flavor would be wonderful in soup. If you aren’t such a big fan of the smoke, use bacon from Skagit River Ranch. Do try to use bacon from pastured pigs th
Variations and Substitutions
As you can probably tell from our photos, we used a green skinned squash. But in reality, you can use just about any sort of winter squash you want. If you really want the soup to be orange, you CAN peel the squash, or you can use an orange skinned squash. You can even use a pumpkin and serve this for Thanksgiving. If you do use a pumpkin, make sure and use a rather dry pumpkin, like a Winter Luxury, instead of a Sugar Pie pumpkin. For a vegetarian or vegan adaptation, you can use an oil instead of bacon, but then you’d definitely want to find some seasoning to add to the soup to get that depth of flavor that you normally get from bacon. I’d try a smoked sea salt first. Also possibly some paprika.
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