Butternut Squash Soup with Crisp Pancetta
Updated: Jul 22, 2020
November 4 2019
This time of the year excites me to no end when I think of the food and beverage possibilities! The things you can make with all the wonderful Autumn fruits and vegetables is unlimited, and especially when it comes to squash. There are so many choices: Pumpkin, acorn, spaghetti squash, delicata and so many more. The one that I tend to gravitate to is Butternut Squash. It's versatile and so flavorful. One thing I love to make with butternut squash is soup. I'm not a big "cream soup" gal...I generally stay away from anything with cream, but this recipe calls for just 2 tablespoons in the entire recipe (it serves 12 so that's just the tiniest bit for each person). If you are sensitive to cream, it won't make a discernible difference to omit it.
Start by roasting the squash with pancetta and butter draped over the cut side of the squash. That gives the squash a lovely flavor and a just a bit of saltiness. You'll use that crisp pancetta as a topping when you serve the soup.
The broth is flavored with thyme, onions & bay leaf. You purée it in either a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender. This creates the silkiest texture ever.
This soup is amazing as an appetizer for Thanksgiving in mini mugs (I love these ones) or as a light lunch or dinner when paired with a salad.
Butternut Squash Soup
with Crisp Pancetta
Active Time: 25 minutes Roasting Time: 45-50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
4 medium butternut squash (6 pounds)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
12 very thin slices of pancetta (3 ounces)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large yellow onion, chopped
6 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Optional additional toppings: Pomegranate seeds, thyme leaves, Italian parsley leaves
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Set the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, cut sides up. Put a piece of butter in each cavity and season generously with salt and pepper. Drape the squash halves with the pancetta slices. Roast the squash for 45 to 50 minutes, or until tender.
Transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain. Crumble and set aside. Scoop the squash out of the skins into a bowl.
In a large, heavy stockpot, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add 3 of the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf. Stir in the squash and the stock and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pick out and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until thick and creamy-smooth, about 1 minute per batch. Transfer the soup to a clean saucepan. Stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper (and sugar if desired).
Reheat the soup if necessary. Ladle into 12 bowls. Garnish the soup with the pancetta, the leaves from the remaining 3 thyme sprigs and a drizzle of olive oil. You can also add pomegranate seeds for additional crunch!
Make Ahead: The soup and roasted pancetta can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat the soup and recrisp the pancetta before serving; the soup may need to be thinned with stock or water.