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Roasted Squash Soup
with Sage and Pancetta
Soups & Stews

A recent recipe that I found attracted me both because of the flavor combinations and the garnish when served. When I made it, the taste was quite bland so I "doctored it up" by adding more pepper flakes and some of Jay's red chile sauce - this is the resulting recipe, which was a hit with our guests. You can make this up to three days in advance. A small bowl/ramekin of soup makes a great fall dinner appetizer.

1 butternut squash (about 2.5-3 pounds; if you can't get butternut, use buttercup)
4 ounces pancetta, cooked and crumbled or chopped (you may substitute bacon if you wish) - save the pan drippings!
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced
2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes (or to taste)
6 cups chicken stock (I use homemade, a very rich stock)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2/3 cup red chile sauce, Asian chili sauce, enchilada sauce or salsa

mascarpone cheese (or substitute sour cream)
chopped ripe tomato
fresh whole sage leaves

Squash Soup

Cut the squash into 4-6 pieces, remove seeds and cook in the microwave until tender, about 10-15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the rind and set squash aside in a bowl.
Fry the pancetta in a large pot (5-6 quart size) until crisp, then crumble and set aside, leaving the drippings in the pan. Cook the onions, garlic, chopped sage and hot pepper flakes in the pancetta drippings for about 10 minutes or until very soft, stirring occasionally.

Add roasted squash, chicken stock, salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes to blend the flavors.

Puree in a blender in small batches, holding down the lid (or use a hand-held immersion-type blender). If you are making this ahead of time, refrigerate the soup at this point until you are ready to use. When ready to serve, re-heat and serve in heated bowls. Garnish with a generous dollop of mascarpone cheese, a spoonful of chopped tomato, a sprinkling of crispy pancetta and a whole sage leaf.

(click on photo for larger view)