I wanted the main component of this soup to be butternut squash because I absolutely love the way it blends into a velvety consistency. I add apples for a little sweetness, and of course because it’s fall and apple picking is a must. A simple mirepoix (onion, carrot & celery) rounds it all out and infuses a lot of flavor into the soup. Oh, and did I mention everything is sautéed in bacon drippings? Once the vegetables are soft, it’s time to add the herbs: thyme, sage, and bay. Sage really reminds me of fall, so it comes through the strongest, but it’s not overpowering by any means. As soon as the herbs heat through and release their oils, I add chicken stock to finish cooking the squash. In no time, the soup simmers and is ready to blend. As if it doesn’t come out of the blender creamy enough, I stir in heavy cream for a rich, luxurious mouthfeel. Lots of sharp cheddar cheese adds an indulgent tanginess, while also contributing to the vibrant orange color of the soup. And finally…no soup is complete without a beautiful topping! I wanted to incorporate the flavors of the soup into the topping, so I quickly sauté some apples with dried cranberries, stir in crumbled bacon that was cooked in order to obtain those delicious bacon drippings, and finish it with more chopped sage.