Carrot and Winter Squash Soup with Pancetta
This simple pureed soup, which gets its gorgeous color from carrots and butternut squash, makes a comforting winter meal served with a salad and a loaf of good bread.
- 1 1/2 lb. (750 g) butternut squash, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 lb. (500 g) carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l) chicken broth, plus more for thinning the soup
- 6 oz. (185 g) pancetta, cut into 3/4-inch (2-cm) dice
Preheat an oven to 425°F (220°C).
In a roasting pan, combine the squash, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, basil and parsley. Season with 1 tsp. salt and a grinding of pepper. Drizzle the 1/4 cup olive oil over the vegetables and toss to coat. Roast, stirring every 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and browned in spots, about 45 minutes.
Remove the vegetables from the oven and discard the thyme sprigs. Transfer the vegetables to a soup pot and add 4 cups of the broth. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Alternatively, in two batches, transfer the soup to a blender, puree until smooth and return the soup to the pot. Add more broth to thin the soup to the desired consistency. Place over medium-low heat and cook until warmed through, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a dry fry pan over medium-low heat, sauté the pancetta until crisped and some of the fat is rendered, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with a few of the pancetta “croutons,” drizzle with olive oil and serve. Serves 6 to 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti (Weldon Owen, 2011)