Its officially fall in the Great Northwet and with an epic September storm rattling the house, it seemed like a good time to make soup. A day like this begs for something hearty and in keeping with the season, so naturally I thought of Butternut squash.
The real beauty of a squash bisque isn’t the rich, satisfying flavor; it’s the fact that this wonderful stuff is so dang easy to build. Something this luxurious makes folks think you slaved for hours, when in fact it takes less than 30 minutes to make and is at its best eaten right away.
There are many takes on this stuff, a lot of which are a bit sweet for my taste. I prefer something savory that highlights the ability of squash to marry well with bold flavor notes, so I went for a vaguely Provençal feel to the spicing: Here’s how ya do it.
Butternut Squash Bisque, (Serves 6 to 8)
3 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup heavy Cream
1 Large Butternut Squash
1 medium Sweet Onion
1 Cup Celery, (Use leaves whenever possible)
1-2 Cloves Garlic
1 teaspoon fresh Rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh Pineapple Sage
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 fresh Lemon
Dash hot chile flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste
When choosing butternuts at the store, look for nice evenly colored tan squashes; the sort of greyish-tan ones aren’t as ripe as the evenly toned, almost peanut colored specimens. Make sure the squash feels firm and has no lesions or soft spots – That’s your guy.
NOTE: If you’ve got time and want to deepen the flavors a mite, roast the squash, onion, celery and garlic for about 15 minutes at 325 F – It adds notable complexity to the overall flavor.
NOTE 2: You can do a very nice vegetarian version of this soup by using vegetable instead of chicken stock and soy milk for the cream.
Peel and slice the squash, then cut into roughly 3/4″ cubes.
Dice the onion and celery, mince the garlic, and chiffonade the herbs.
In a stock pot over medium high flame, heat the olive oil thoroughly.
Toss in the onion and celery and sauté until the onion is just starting to turn translucent. Add the garlic and herbs, squeeze the lemon juice in. Continue to sauté for a couple minutes longer.
Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
Throw all the squash cubes into the party; reduce heat to a low simmer and allow everything to marry and soften for about 20 minutes or until the squash cubes are all fork tender.
The next step is blending, best done with a boat motor, (AKA immersion blender), but a stand blender or food processor will do just fine – Just be careful transferring hot liquids, naturally. Blend the mixture until you have a nice, even consistency.
Add the cream and mix thoroughly.
Now season to taste with the chile, salt and pepper, and there you are; serve nice and hot, with fresh local bread lightly rubbed with a garlic clove and toasted.
E & M