2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small sweet onion, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup apple cider
2 Honeycrisp apples, cored and chopped
3 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash or pumpkin
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 (12-ounce) bottle pumpkin beer
3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Bacon and Pumpkin Seed Granola
4 thick-cut bacon slices
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed, cut into cubes
In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until softened. Slowly add 1/3 cup of the cider and let it cook into the onions. Repeat until all the cider has been added and the onions are caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the apples, squash and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the beer, 3 cups of the broth, and the cayenne. Increase the heat to high, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the apples and squash are tender.
Meanwhile, make the granola. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel–lined plate. Transfer the bacon and 1/4 cup of the pumpkin seeds to a food processor and pulse until finely ground, about 30 seconds.
In the same large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and cook until just beginning to brown and smell toasted. Add the oats and remaining 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the finely ground bacon mixture. Season with salt.
When the apples and squash are tender, transfer the soup to a blender and pulse until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir in the milk, then bring the soup to a low boil. Stir in the cheddar and Brie until melted and smooth. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until ready to serve. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the granola.
Courtesy of the Half Baked Harvest Cookbook