Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Pesto and Crispy Pancetta

4 lbs. Butternut Squash – Peeled and cubed into 1 inch cubes

½ Cup Olive Oil

2 ½ tsp Salt

2 tsp. Black Pepper

3 tbsp. Butter

1 Onion – Chopped

2 Carrots – Cubed

2 Celery Stalks – Diced

6 Cups Chicken Broth

3 Sage Leaves

¼ tsp Nutmeg

2 Tbsp, Dry Sherry

4 oz Pancetta – diced into ⅛ inch cubes

Sage Pesto

1 Cup Fresh Sage

1 Cup Fresh Parsley

⅓ Cup Shelled Pistachios

½ Cup Grated Pecorino Romano

2 Garlic Cloves

¼ tsp Salt

¼ Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

⅔ Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl put the butternut squash and coat it with ½ cup of olive oil and 1 ½ tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Place the butternut squash in a single layer on 2 parchment lined baking sheets. Put in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, until they are lightly browned.  Remove from the oven.

Melt the butter in a soup pot.  Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook on a low flame until they are fork tender and cooked through.  

While this is cooking, heat a separate small frying pan.  Add the pancetta and cook the cubes until crispy.  Remove from the pan and drain on a piece of paper towel to get out any excess grease.  Set aside. 

To the soup mixture add ¼ tsp of nutmeg, 1 ½ tsp of salt and 1 tsp. of pepper to the pot. Add the cooked butternut squash, chicken broth and sage.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes on a low heat.  Remove the sage leaves and puree.  I use an immersion blender.  Add in the dry sherry, combine well  and cook for another 10 minutes.

For the pesto, add the sage, parsley, pistachios, Pecorino, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes to a food processor.  Begin to puree and gradually add in the olive oil until well blended and smooth..  

Serve the soup with a drizzle of the pesto and top each bowl with a sprinkle of the crispy pancetta. 

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