Even though the weather here still says summer, I've been hankering after fall foods like squash so when I saw a handy, cantaloupe-sized kabocha squash at the market last week, it all but leaped into my cart.
This morning seemed like a good day to make soup, while it was still cool, and it made the perfect lunch, sweet and savory and salty all at once, thanks to the onions, garlic, thyme, apples and pancetta I added to the roasted squash. It couldn't have been easier to make and it went down very easily, too.
This is a low-stress soup - I roasted my squash one day and, when fun intervened, wrapped the two halves in plastic and refrigerated them until I got the urge to make soup again. No need to do it all at once, if you don't want to. Also, the amounts are very approximate - don't worry if you don't have exactly the right amount of this or that.
I didn't follow any particular recipe, just did what seemed natural and it turned out great. So, if you are wishing for fall, or just fall foods, give this one a try.
Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup with Pancetta and Thyme
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 healthy sprigs of fresh thyme
3 oz. pancetta, thinly sliced (mine was wafer-thin!)
2 tsp. olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 small kabocha squash
4 apples, peeled, cored and cut in rough chunks (I used 3 gala and 1 unknown variety from my neighbor)
Cut the kabocha in half with a large knife and roast it, cut side down, in a 350 degree oven until it pierces easily with a knife, about 40-50 minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh.
While the squash is roasting, coarsely chop the thin pancetta and fry it on medium heat in the bottom of a large kettle until it is pale golden - mine was so thin, it started to smoke before it got as golden as bacon does, so watch it carefully. Remove the now-crispy pancetta with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and add the olive oil to the pan (if you think you have enough pancetta drippings, you can omit the oil).
Still over medium heat, add the onion, garlic and thyme, stirring until you smell the thyme over the other two, about 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, the squash flesh and the apples and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the apples squash easily with the back of a spoon. Don't add salt - the pancetta is very salty and will season the soup all you need.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender. I learned the hard way not to fill the blender more than halfway and to have the lid on securely before blending - otherwise, you get hot soup sprayed all over your kitchen. I'm still finding bits here and there. *Sigh*
Pour into bowls, garnish with crispy pancetta bits and a tiny sprig of thyme.
Labels: kabocha squash, pancetta