Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup with Pancetta and Sage

Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup with Pancetta and Sage

1 (4-lb) kabocha squash, halved and seeded
1 cup paleo oil
20 whole fresh sage leaves plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/4 lb sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

Roast squash: Preheat oven to 400°F.

Roast squash, cut sides down, in an oiled roasting pan in middle of oven until tender, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, scrape flesh from skin.

Fry sage leaves while squash roasts: Heat oil in a deep small saucepan until it registers 365°F on a deep-fat thermometer. Fry sage leaves in 3 batches until crisp, 3 to 5 seconds. Transfer leaves with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Cook pancetta and make soup: Cook pancetta in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until browned. Transfer pancetta with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Add olive oil to pancetta fat remaining in pot, then cook onion, stirring, until softened. Stir in garlic and chopped sage and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add squash, broth, and water and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.

Purée soup in batches in a blender, transferring to a bowl. (Use caution when blending hot liquids.) Return soup to pot and reheat. If necessary, thin to desired consistency with water.

Stir in citrus juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve sprinkled with pancetta and fried sage leaves.

Cooks' note: You can make soup 3 days ahead and chill, covered.

Makes 8 servings (about 11 cups).

Adapted from Epicurious []