Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Pancetta and Sage

22. October 2005 Soups, Stocks + Sauces 0

Adapted from a Gourmet Magazine recipe using kabocha squash

1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
1 cup vegetable oil
20 whole fresh sage leaves plus, 1 1/2 tsps chopped fresh sage
1/4 pound sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt, pepper, olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400° and roast squash, cut sides down, in an oiled roasting pan in middle of oven until tender, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, scrape flesh from skin.
2. Fry sage leaves while squash roasts. Heat vegetable oil in a deep saucepan and fry sage leaves in 3 batches until crisp, about 3 to 5 seconds. Transfer leaves with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
3. Cook pancetta in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until browned. Transfer pancetta with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Add olive oil to pancetta fat remaining in pot, then cook onion, stirring, until softened. Stir in garlic and chopped sage and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add squash, broth, and water and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.
4. Purée soup in batches in a blender, transferring to a bowl. Return soup to pot and reheat. If necessary, thin to desired consistency with water. Stir in vinegar and salt and pepper, to taste. Serve sprinkled with pancetta and fried sage leaves.