Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Roasted Butternut Squash, Pancetta and Chestnut Soup

Copyright 2007 by Cooking With The Single Guy

1 butternut squash
½ sweet onion, finely diced
3 oz. pancetta, diced
3 oz. whole chestnuts, chopped
1 t fresh sage, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cut your butternut squash lengthwise in half, and then cut it further into slices. Place the slices on a cookie or baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and sea salt. Place in oven and cook for about 30 minutes until tender. Then sprinkle the diced pancetta and chestnut over your semi-roasted squash and continue cooking until pancetta gets crispy (about 12-15 minutes).

Remove everything from oven and spoon your pancetta and chestnut onto a dish and set aside. Let your squash cool.

In a saucepan, warm a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Add diced onion and sauté for about 3 to 5 minutes until translucent. Then add broth and water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add your roasted squash to the broth along with the sage. (Your squash should be so tender that you can just scrape it off its skin with a spoon.) Cook for another 10 minutes to warm your squash through and then remove the pot from the heat.

With a hand blender, puree the squash until silky smooth. (You can also place small batches into your blender.*) Once you have the texture you like, add the pancetta and chestnut (leave some for garnishing). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm and garnish the top with more pancetta and chestnut pieces.

Makes 5 to 6 servings. Serve with a field green salad.

Pair with a glass of Riesling.

* Do not place hot liquid in blender. Let the stock cool first. And never fill blender or food processor by more than half.

TIP: The squash can be like a potato with its starch factor, so the smoothness of your soup will depend on the right balance of broth/water to squash. So depending on how large your butternut squash turns out to be, you may need to add more liquid to thin out your squash puree or else it’ll taste like you’re eating mashed potatoes. You can thin your soup by adding more broth or, for an even creamier texture, some crème fraiche or heavy cream.

WHO’S STORING THE NUTS?: I find that it’s a pit tricky hunting for whole chestnuts for cooking. Near the holidays you’ll see freshly roasted chestnuts, but you don’t want to sit there and shell them. Instead, look for the whole, shelled chestnuts used for baking. They’re often sold in jars or the vacuum packs and are often spotted at Italian specialty stores or gourmet food stores.

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