There are a zillion butternut squash soup recipes out there, but this one takes things over the top! Literally! This silky smooth, flavorful soup is topped with crispy pancetta, salty Feta and a sprinkle of fresh thyme… so delicious!
Early this fall, I came across a recipe from Food and Wine for Butternut Squash Soup with Crisp Pancetta. It sounded so good that I made it with the first butternut squash I could get my hands on. I loved the technique for the pancetta; draping it over the squash, allowing it to crisp up as the squash roasted. A two in one winner to me; the pancetta could be cooked in the same pan at the same time as the squash AND the delicious flavor from the pancetta would permeate the squash. There was just one problem.
The Food and Wine soup itself was quite bland and uninteresting. But I couldn’t get the recipe out of my mind. Finally, I decided to go my own way with the soup and incorporated their idea for roasting the pancetta. A few renditions later, it’s ready for you!
Scott and I have enjoyed this soup for dinner for the last two nights as well as for several lunches and I (don’t tell anyone or they’ll think I’m strange) even ate it for breakfast one morning. Several times during each meal, one or the other of us has exclaimed, “This is so… good!” I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.
This Butternut Squash Soup recipe is pretty straightforward and you don’t have to worry about peeling or seeding the squash before roasting. Simply place it, cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drape the thinly sliced pancetta over the squash and pop it in a piping hot oven. The pancetta will be done before the squash, so set a timer for 25 minutes and remove the pancetta and let it drain on several layers of paper towels. (Remember the pancetta is for the soup, so try to refrain from snitching these crisp, salty, delicious morsels!)
While the oven is doing its magic with the squash and pancetta you will need to get things going on the stovetop. Sauté chopped onion and garlic in melted butter until soft and fragrant. Next comes chicken broth, lots of carrots, apples, bay leaves, fresh thyme and a few spices. Everything is simmered until super tender. When the squash is done, it’s easy to scoop out the tender squash and add it to the pot.
The last step is a whirl in the blender or, even easier, use an immersion blender. A drizzle of maple syrup rounds out the flavor and adds a touch of sweetness. Voila! You’re done and have a big, beautiful, delicious pot of soup to show for your effort.
This butternut squash soup can be made ahead and warmed before serving. It’s wonderful to pull out on busy evenings when a comforting bowl of fabulous soup is “just what the doctor ordered”!
The crispy pancetta topping can also be refrigerated for later use. I like to pop it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to warm and crisp it up again before serving. A sprinkle of feta and fresh thyme leaves are the gourmet finishing touches. The combination of pancetta, Feta and fresh thyme on top of the vibrant-hued soup makes a lovely presentation!
I love to serve this butternut squash soup with slices of our Ridiculously Easy Focaccia Bread. Sometimes I crisp it up in a pan with a little oil, other times I simply serve it warm with a little bowl of butter to pass.
If you haven’t tried this focaccia recipe, you’re missing out on something wonderful that requires a minimum amount of effort on your part. Don’t believe me? Check out the video below and you’ll “get” just how easy it is!
So put Focaccia and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Pancetta on your menu as soon as possible! It’a fabulous meal in a bowl and it also makes an incredibly delicious appetizer soup served in small pretty bowls. Either way, you’re sure to hear lots of rave reviews and comments like “this soup is so… good!” You don’t have to tell them it’s also so… healthy!
Café Tips for making this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Pancetta
- This soup warms up beautifully and can also be frozen. The crispy pancetta can be refrigerated or frozen too. Just take it out of the refrigerator, wrap it in a paper towel and cook for 10-15 seconds in the microwave to re-crisp and warm.
- This soup can also be made with a large candy roaster squash in lieu of the butternut squash.
- Don’t be tempted to cover the pot while the soup is simmering. The uncovered simmering reduces the chicken broth to concentrate and enhance the flavor.
- This recipe calls for 1 can of coconut milk. To keep things a little lighter, I use light coconut milk, but regular coconut milk will also work.
- Sometimes you can find pre-sliced pancetta, but you’ll probably have to ask for it at the deli. I like Boar’s Head pancetta and any store that carries Boars Head deli meats will also have the pancetta. When you ask for it at the deli, specify that you want it thinly sliced but NOT shaved. If they shave it, it’s difficult to pull the pieces apart.
- You can use a regular blender to puree this soup but it’s MUCH easier to use an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, consider purchasing one. They’re reasonably priced, save you from washing a separate blender and are little kitchen workhorses. You’ll wonder how you ever got along without one. An immersion blender would make a wonderful gift for someone who enjoys cooking!
Thought for the day:
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
and on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
and I will declare Your greatness.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
and shall sing of Your righteousness.
What we’re listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
There are a zillion butternut squash soup recipes out there, but this one takes things over the top! Literally! This silky smooth, flavorful soup is topped with crispy pancetta, salty Feta and a sprinkle of fresh thyme... so delicious!
- 2 medium butternut squash totalling 4-4 ½ pounds (or 1 large candy roaster squash)
- ½ pound pancetta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion peeled and roughly chopped (about ¾ cup)
- 4 medium cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 8 ounces carrots (peeled and roughly chopped)
- 2 medium apples peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon mild curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 8 sprigs of fresh thyme tied together with kitchen twine
- 14.5-ounce can light coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Feta cheese and fresh thyme for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil and drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Place several layers of paper towels on the counter near the oven.
Cut a butternut squash in half and place it, cut side down, on the sheet pan. Drape the pancetta over the butternut squash. If you have extra pancetta, place it around the squash on the foil. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the pancetta is nice and crisp and most of the fat has been rendered. Remove the pancetta and drain on several thicknesses of paper toweling.
Return the squash to the oven and continue roasting until it’s very tender and a small knife can be easily inserted into the flesh. Remove the squash from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the squash and pancetta are roasting, melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for another 30 seconds.
Add the chicken broth, carrots, apples, cinnamon, salt, curry powder, pepper, nutmeg and thyme sprigs. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook for 20-25 minutes, uncovered until carrots and apples are very tender.
Using a large spoon, remove the seeds from the butternut squash and discard. Remove the flesh and transfer to the pot. Add the coconut milk and maple syrup. Transfer the soup to a blender and puree in batches until smooth and creamy or use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot.
Serve the soup, topped with the crispy pancetta, a sprinkle of Feta cheese and plenty of fresh thyme leaves.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.