Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian: Simple, Authentic Recipes for Everyday Cooking by Domenica Marchetti includes recipes like Carrot and Winter Squash Soup with Pancetta (Zuppa di Carote e Zucca); Beets with Blood Oranges and Fennel (Barbietole con Arancia Rossa); and Grilled Lamb Chops with Herb-Almond Pesto (Costole d'Agnello Alla Brace).
This fall dish was inspired by long hours of perusing my Mom's collection of Italian cooking magazines dating back to the early 1960s. At that time, simple puréed soups featuring seasonal ingredients were as popular as they are today—with good reason.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). In a roasting pan, combine the squash, carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, basil, and parsley. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a grinding of pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables and toss to coat. Roast, stirring every 15 minutes, until tender and browned in spots, about 45 minutes.
Remove the vegetables from the oven and discard the thyme sprigs. Transfer the vegetables to a soup pot and add 4 cups of the broth. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Alternately, transfer to a stand blender, puree the soup with the broth in 2 batches, and return to the pot.
Add more broth to thin the soup to the desired consistency. Place over medium-low heat and cook until warmed through, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a dry frying pan over medium-low heat, sauté the pancetta until crisped and some of the fat is rendered, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with a few of the pancetta "croutons," drizzle with olive oil, and serve.
Wine suggestion: a crisp white such as Soave Classico.
This page created January 2012
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