Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Butternut Squash And Roasted Chestnut Soup With Crispy Pancetta

Nothing chases away winter’s chill quite like a steamy bowl of piping hot soup. This creamy Butternut Squash and Roasted Chestnut Soup certainly fits the bill yet is elegant enough to serve at any black tie affair.

Butternut Squash And Roasted Chestnut Soup With Crispy Pancetta

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces pancetta cut in small cubes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks or onions
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 -5 cups chicken stock
3 cups cubed butternut squash
1 cup peeled roasted chestnuts
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest or 1/2 teaspoon dried orange zest
1/2 teaspoon porcini powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy and golden brown. Remove the pancetta and drain on paper towels. Drain the fat from the inside of the pot and set back on the heat.

Melt the butter in the pot over medium heat and add the leeks, carrots, celery and garlic. Lightly season with salt and pepper and cook until the leeks are tender, 6-8 minutes.

Add the stock, squash and roasted chestnuts. Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender, 20-25 minutes.

Strain the soup reserving the stock. Puree the vegetables (I use a food mill because I prefer the texture it yields, but a food processor or blender will work) and return to the pot. Add enough of the reserved stock to achieve the desired consistency. Stir well and return to a simmer. Add the orange zest, porcini powder, nutmeg and salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into heated bowls and garnish with the crispy pancetta.

This lovely creamy satisfying soup beckons to be served in your finest china. So dust off that tuxedo, open a bottle of champagne, light the candles and forget about the cold winds of winter.