Crispy Pork Belly and Squash Soup

This is, hands-down, one of my favorite recipes to date. Pork belly, unlike bacon, is uncured, not smoked and has far more lip-smacking gristle on it than your slabs and slices. Ask your butcher or favorite farmers market vendor (we love buying from Peads & Barnetts) for a nice, fatty piece with the skin off. If you can’t find raw pork belly, ask for lardons (thick-cut, cured but unsmoked) or thick-cut bacon. Either way, know that the less processed the pork belly is, the more it will reduce in the cooking process.

This soup freezes really well, but be sure to freeze the reserved pieces of pork belly separately, heating them up in a skillet and dropping in a fresh bunch of sage leaves in their fat for the garnish.

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Ingredients

12 oz Pork belly (uncooked, preferably)
1 bunch Fresh sage leaves
2 Shallots
2 Tbsps Maple syrup
2 Butternut squash (medium, or 1 very large)
4-6 cups Vegetable broth
1 Tbsp Kosher salt

Directions

  1. Peel and cube butternut squash. Set aside.
  2. Cube the pork belly into 1” cubes. Place in a heavy-bottom pot (like a Dutch oven) and cook over low heat to melt the fat off the pork belly. If you could only find cooked pork belly, this process will only take a few minutes. Once the meat starts to get a little color, remove the pork belly and set aside. Add the sage to the fat in the pan to crisp it up. Set the sage aside.
  3. Add the squash and shallots and toss into the rendered fats to coat. Add the broth and the salt. Cover and cook until the squash is soft.
  4. Pour the squash in a blender and puree until smooth with half of the pork belly cubes. Blend until smooth. Serve warm with remaining pork belly and sage as garnish.