Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook about seven minutes or until crisp. Strain out the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving about two tablespoons of the fat behind. Reserve the bacon.
Reduce heat to medium, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, five minutes or until softened. Add carrots and cook another two to three minutes. Then add the squash and garlic and cook two to three minutes or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the split peas, salt, curry powder and cayenne (if using) and stir well. Add the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered and stirring often, 55 minutes or until the split peas are completely soft.
Purée with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. If the soup is overly thick, add about ½ cup water.
Serve garnished with reserved bacon and a twist of pepper.
Best Health tip: Make it vegan by omitting the bacon and using a little canola oil to sauté the onions instead. Serve soup sprinkled with roasted chickpeas or nutritional yeast.
Batch cooking? If you have a big enough pot, double the recipe. Let cool completely, then freeze in two-cup portions for up to one month.