Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hello Autumn!

Autumn has arrived!

As I was writing today, I had the distinct feeling that evening was approaching, but in fact it was only four o' clock in the afternoon. The new season is also manifesting itself in the tree tops with their yellow and red tints and in the leaves that lay scattered on the ground, wet from the misty rain.

It's time to get the warmer coats down from the attic- and for a meal of soup and homemade bread.

The sweet flesh and versatility of butternut squash make it one of my favorite foods of the season. A perfect lunch during this time of year would be a warm salad of roasted butternut squash, rocket leaves and crumbled goat's cheese. And a perfect dinner? How about a comforting butternut squash risotto seasoned with fresh sage? Or a bowl of whole wheat pasta spirals topped with cubed and stir-fried butternut squash with rosemary. But perhaps my favorite way to eat butternut squash is in hearty, bright yellow soups.

This flavorful, smooth butternut squash soup was the perfect way to welcome the autumn into my kitchen today.

Here's the recipe:

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions and Crispy Pancetta

Serves 4

For the onions:
2 medium red onions
50 ml mild olive oil

Peel and half the onions. Slice each half into thin half moons. Allow the onions to dry between two layers of paper towel for about 20 minutes. Heat olive oil. Add onions and cook on a medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. Drain and allow to cool on paper towel. Onions will crispen as they cool. Important: do not clean the pan in which you fried the onions, just wipe it with paper towel!

For the soup:
2 tbsps mild olive oil
good pinch of dried chili flakes
1 tsp dried sage
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into rough chunks
1200 ml chicken or vegetable stock
8-12 slices of pancetta (or 2 per person), to serve

Heat oil in a large pan. Add the chili flakes and the sage and saute on a low heat for about five minutes. This basically flavors the oil. Add the butternut squash and raise the heat to medium. Stir the squash through the flavored oil to coat. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and allow soup to simmer for about 20 minutes. Puree the soup, adjust seasoning and return to heat. You might have to do this in batches.

Using the pan in which you fried the onions, fry the pancetta on a medium-high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towel. You do not need to add any oil to the pan.

To serve:
Ladle the soup into warm bowls. Top with some onions, crumble the pancetta on top and top with a little more of the onions.

Note: You can mix any leftover onions and pancetta and serve it in a small bowl so people an add more to their soup.


Sandy said...

This looks like the perfect fall food. I've only ever made soup with butternut squash, but you're inspiring me to expand my horizons.
And I'm glad you're back on the blog a little more now. You've been missed.

Fiona said...

I made a squash soup last week, with carrots and chilli and red onions - but the really lovely Autumn addition to our menu was inspired by you and it was great: