Last night I tried a great recipe for butternut squash soup. It was from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two by Beth Hensperger. I love my slow cooker; in the winter it is my go-to dinner savior.

I decided the soup wasn’t enough on its own for dinner, so I also made some simple BLTs using some great thick cut bacon from Whole Foods.

There were a few steps involved in getting this soup together for the slow cooker. That was my one issue with the recipe. It called for frozen cooked butternut squash OR “fresh butternut squash puree.” I bought fresh butternut squash, but the recipe didn’t explain how to get into puree form. I looked online and found a Barefoot Contessa recipe for “Roasted Vegetable Soup” that involved roasting squash for soup, so I sort of combined the two recipes and came up with my own version.

So, here’s part one:

Buy fresh butternut squash in whatever form you choose. I bought some already peeled and cubed from the store, then I just cut up the squash into smaller pieces.

Preheat the oven to 425. Spray or oil a cookie sheet and spread the squash in a single layer. Roast the squash in the oven for 35 minutes. Put the hot squash into a food processor or blender and pulse until it turns into a puree. A little time consuming, but worth it.

So, here’s the recipe from Beth Hensperger’s book:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 shallots, finely chopped
2/3 cup diced peeled apple
Three 12-ounce packages frozen cooked butternut squash, thawed and drained, OR 4 to 4 1/2 cups fresh butternut squash puree (as described above)
2 1/2 to 3 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the shallots and apple and cook for about 3 minutes, “just to soften and coat them with the butter.” Pour into the slow cooker and add all the other ingredients.

2. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours (I actually cooked mine on medium for 2 and it was fine).

3. “Using a handheld immersion blender, or transferring to a food processor or blender in batches, puree the soup. Ladle the hot soup into bowls, sprinkle with pepper, and serve hot.”

Let me just say, as my own Orange Room aside, that buying a handheld immersion blender was one of the greatest kitchen purchases I ever made. A couple years ago, before Adam and I were married, I made homemade tomato soup in our old apartment in Hoboken. I didn’t have an immersion blender, so when it came time to puree the soup I tried loading it into the blender in batches. I had no idea what I was doing, and I basically ended up coating our white kitchen in red soup. I filled the blender too high, I had trouble transporting boiling hot soup in batches, it was just a bad scene. I got covered in hot soup, too. Adam insisted on buying an immersion blender not long after, and I use it constantly.

BLTs are easy enough. Slice some bacon in half, heat up a skillet to medium, and toss it in. When it crisps up, move it to a plate covered with a paper towel. Toast some bread, spread mayo on it if you like. Slice a tomato and use whole leaves of lettuce. Don’t bother with the shredded or chopped kind, it’s impossible to manage in s sandwich. I do 2 thick slices of tomato, 1 or 2 big pieces of lettuce (washed), and 3 half pieces of bacon.