I bought a beautiful butternut squash at our local farmer’s market last week and it has been rolling around on my counter begging to be transformed into something delicious. (I swear the cute little thing has been swiveling around to peek up at me on each pass.) I used to be intimidated by butternut squash but after peeling a few, I fear no longer. Once you peel them, they are a delight in recipes. You can roast, puree, sauté, mash these beauties. I love to roast the seeds for a yummy treat. Of course, our pre-packaged world now allows you to buy butternut squash already cut up in the stores but to me, there is something magical about taking something like a squash in its elemental form and transforming it into a delicious hearty dish – very therapeutic and satisfying indeed. My little squash became a creamy, soul satisfying soup for dinner last eve. So do not be intimated by these autumn treasures – pour a glass of vino, grab that knife and peel away! You will feel all the better for it. Enjoy!
Roasted Butternut Squash and Pancetta Soup
1 medium/large butternut squash (about 2 to 2 ½ pounds)
3 tablespoons butter, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces of pancetta, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Preheat over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the halved squash on a rimmed baking sheet with the cut sides up. Divide one tablespoon of butter, putting one half in each cavity. Sprinkle squash generously with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast until the squash is very tender, about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the squash. Use a spoon and scrape out the tender flesh into a bowl. Set aside. Discard the skin.
- In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium low heat. Add the diced pancetta and sauté until crisp, about 5 minutes. Reserve about ½ the diced pancetta (to crumble on top).
- Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the pot. When melted, add in the chopped onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the reserved squash, diced apple, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the bay leaf. Puree the soup either with an immersion blender right in the pot or working in batches, using a blender or food processor. Add the cream to the soup and stir to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- To serve, ladle into warmed bowls and sprinkle pancetta crumbles on top.
- Buon appetito!
Note: This soup tastes even better if made a day in advance!