This perfect hearty and delicious Tuscan butternut squash soup recipe is garnished with crispy pancetta on top.
4 medium butternut squash (6 pounds)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
12 very thin slices of pancetta
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
6 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Set the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, cut sides up. Put a piece of butter in each cavity and season generously with salt and pepper. Drape the squash halves with the pancetta slices. Roast the squash for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender.
Transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain. Crumble and set aside. Scoop the squash out of the skins into a bowl. In a large, heavy stockpot, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add 3 of the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf. Stir in the squash and the stock and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pick out and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a food processor and puree until thick and creamy-smooth, about 1 minute per batch. Transfer the soup to a saucepan. Stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. Garnish the pancetta, the leaves from the remaining 3 thyme sprigs and a drizzle of olive oil.
Italian Wedding Soup
Why not include this irresistible soup in your Thanksgiving feast.
For the meatballs
1 small onion, grated
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large egg
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 slice fresh white bread
½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese
8 oz ground beef
8 oz ground pork
freshly ground black pepper
For the soup
12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb curly escarole, coarsely chopped 2 large eggs
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano, plus extra for garnish
salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the meatballs, trim the crust and tear the bread into small pieces. Stir the first 6 ingredients into a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese, beef and pork. Using 1 ½ teaspoons for each, shape the meat mixture into 1” diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet.
To make the soup, bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the meatballs and escarole; simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the escarole is tender, about 8 minutes. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl to blend. Stir the soup in a circular motion. Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin strands of egg, about 1 minute. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. Finish soup with Parmigiano cheese.
Chestnut Soup with Grappa Cream
Growing up in Italy’s Marche region, Fabio Trabocchi roasted chestnuts in the fireplace to eat as a snack. At culinary school, he first transformed those chestnuts into this luscious soup.
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 oz thinly sliced pancetta
2 medium shallots, sliced
½ cup celery root, peeled and diced
½ lb white mushrooms, sliced
One 14-ounce jar roasted chestnuts, coarsely chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup Cognac
1 fresh bay leaf
1 sage sprig
1 thyme sprig, plus
1 tbsp thyme leaves, for garnish
3/4 cup half-and-half
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp grappa
In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and celery root and cook until the celery root is tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl, leaving the pancetta and fat in the saucepan.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the saucepan along with the mushrooms and all but 2 tablespoons of the chestnuts. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are slightly softened, 6 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the chicken stock and the celery root mixture; cook for 1 minute. Add the Cognac and cook until evaporated, 2 minutes.
Add the bay leaf, sage and thyme sprigs to the saucepan along with the remaining chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard the pancetta, bay leaf, sage and thyme.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until creamy and smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan. Stir in the half-and-half, season with salt and white pepper and keep warm. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Beat in the grappa and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into small bowls. Dollop the grappa cream on top, garnish with the thyme leaves, the reserved 2 tablespoons of chestnuts and serve.