Everything’s better with bacon!

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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

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 pancetta, diced
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled+cubed
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 tbs maple syrum
  • 1 tbs Moscatel or Sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/2 finely diced Honeycrisp apple
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
Directions:
  • In a wide, heavy, 6 qt 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 med, 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.
Vegetable stock: Place 12 cups water in a 6 qt stock pot. Roughly chop 1 large onion, 1 large carrot and 2 celery stalks. Add to pot along with 2 bay leaves, 8-10 celery stems, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 8-10 black pepper corns. If you have leek greens or parsnips sitting around add those as well. (No peppers or cabbage. Yuck!) Simmer partially covered for 30-45 minutes and strain. Season a quarter cup with a little salt and pepper. If the stock is bland, reduce the stock by boiling down to 8 cups. (Just guess. No one actually measures boiling stock to get an exact measurement.)
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