For the Soup:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 5 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 5 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more to taste
- salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
- 3 – 4lbs red kuri squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed (about 6 to 8 cups)
- 8 cups turkey, chicken, or vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
For the Pancetta Topping:
- 4 ounces cubed pancetta
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
For the Popovers:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- heaping 1/3 cup coarsely grated parmesan cheese
- To make the soup, in a large stick pot over medium heat warm the olive oil. Add onions, celery, and carrots to the pot and toss together. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are just beginning to soften.
- Add the garlic, thyme, cloves, nutmeg, and a bit of salt and pepper and sautee for 5 more minutes. Tossing so all of the vegetables are coated in spice and herbs.
- Add the squash to the pot along with the broth. Stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the carrots, celery, and squash have completely softened.
- Remove from heat and use an immersion or cordless hand blender to blend the soup until smooth. Be careful, it’s hot!
- If you don’t have a cordless blender, you can also blend this soup in batches in an upright blender. Just be careful not to overfill the blender to start. Cover tightly with a lid and drape the blender with a kitchen towel safely blend.
- Add cream to the blended soup and taste. Season with salt and pepper (and more clove and nutmeg) to your desired taste.
- This soup is best re-heated the day after it is made. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- To make the pancetta topping, in a medium skillet over medium heat, sauté pancetta bits until crisp and well browned, about 5 minutes. The pancetta bits will produce and release a good amount of fat during cooking. That’s great!
- Once well browned, use a spoon to remove the pancetta bits from the pan and place them in a small bowl. Leave as much fat as possible in the pan and reduce heat to medium-low.
- Add the panko crumbs, thyme and parsley to the pan and stir to coat in fat. Cook until fragrant and browned, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and stir into the pancetta. Set aside to top the soup.
- To make the popovers, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a separate medium bowl, beat together eggs and milk until very well combined. I used my hand mixer for about 4 minutes to combine the eggs and milk.
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg and milk mixture. Beat together until no lumps remain. Beat in the thyme and parmesan. The batter will be thin. That’s right!
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Generously brush butter into the cups of a non-stick muffin tin. Fill each muffin cup halfway full with batter. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350 and bake for 10 minutes more.
- Popovers will be tall and puffed. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with warm soup.
- Serving Size: 12 servings