Butternut squash soup is perfect on a grey, cool fall day like today. Warm, sweet, rich and thick. But how can you make it quickly, and produce a rich roasted taste without baking the squash in the oven for 40 minutes? Peeling and chopping your squash into a 1/2″ dice saves a lot of cooking time. Letting the squash caramelize on the bottom of the pot for a few minutes produces some of the flavor you get from the oven.
But why stop there? Add pancetta – Italian, salt-cured bacon — maple syrup, Moscatel vinegar and a Honeycrisp apple garnish, and you’ve got a multi-layered flavor with a sweet-tangy crunch at the end.
Butternut Squash Pancetta Soup
- 1/4 pancetta, diced
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 3 tbs maple syrup
- 1 tbs Moscatel or Sherry vinegar
- 2 tbs butter
- 1/2 Honeycrisp apple, finely diced
- 2 tbs chopped parsley
- In a wide, heavy, 6 quart stock pot, heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté pancetta until crispy and brown. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon leaving behind the salty, fatty goodness.
- Add onions and cook until softened.
- Add garlic. Cook through one minute until fragrant.
- Add squash. Cook until onions and squash caramelize on bottom of pan. You can let it form a crust, just be careful not to burn.
- Add 1 cup stock, raise heat to medium, and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the remaining stock, bay leaves and thyme. Simmer over medium-high heat until squash is soft. About 20 minutes.
- Remove bay and thyme and process soup. You can use an immersion blender, but a food mill, if you have one, produces a great texture.
- Finely mince the reserved, cooked pancetta. Stir into the soup and cook 5 minutes more to let the flavors blend.
- Add 2 tbs maple syrup and a splash of vinegar.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, butter and additional syrup and vinegar as needed.
- Garnish with apple and parsley.