White Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

I absolutely love this soup recipe. I've made it several times and I think I have finally perfected it. The first couple of times I made it, I made it without any meat and it was still delicious. I've added a little prosciutto to the recipe to add some salt and texture, and it goes together perfectly. My mom made a version of this recipe a few weeks ago and told me she loved it. It really is so easy to make (if you have a food processor), so give it a try and tell me what you think!

White Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

2 cans Cannellini beans
1 butternut squash (or pumpkin if in season!)
1/4 lb prosciutto or pancetta (optional if vegetarian)
1 stick Rosemary (leaves only)
4 cloves garlic (halved)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 shallots (chopped)
2 celery stalks (chopped)
1 carrot (chopped)
4 cups vegetable or organic chicken stock
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Sea salt and black pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half, long ways and remove the seeds and pulp from the core. Rub some olive oil on in, and put it in the oven on a baking sheet. Let cook for about 30 minutes.

After the squash has been in the oven for about 20 minutes, heat some olive oil and butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and let crisp up and brown a bit. Next, add shallots, celery, and carrots (mirepoix). Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to mirepoix and let cook for 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add the rosemary and white beans to the mixture and let the beans soak up the flavors for about 5 minutes. Add a little more salt and pepper to the mixture, flavor every layer.

Add all the stock to the pot, raise the heat and bring to a simmer. Add the garlic halves and let simmer for 10 minutes, until garlic is soft.

Remove the squash from the oven and transfer bean mixture to a mixing bowl.

Ladle a few spoonfuls of the soup mixture into a food processor, and a couple spoonfuls of the squash. Mix until smooth and return to the soup pot. Repeat until all the soup and squash have run through the food processor.

Mix in the half and half and Parmesan cheese and keep on low heat until ready to serve.

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