Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque

Sorry for the short hiatus! Had to take some time off to celebrate Mike’s and my birthday, and it was a busy week. Back on schedule now!

This is a slight variation on the first recipe I developed from scratch, many years ago. The original is a curried butternut squash bisque, so I wanted to bring it back home to a simpler recipe that could have the curried version as a variation, but also be used for other variations as well.

The vegetables are roasted to reduce the water content and bring out the rich flavor through caramelization of the sugars. The final dish has a sweetness that generally doesn’t require apples or added sugars.

If I’m busy, I start this recipe the day before to get the vegetables roasted. In fact, the recipe can be up through the last step of adding the half and half and gently heated on the stovetop the next day. You can even freeze the vegetable puree base and thaw and add the half and half.

For the puree, I prefer to use the countertop blender because it gives a smoother puree, but feel free to use a stick blender inside the stock pot for less cleanup and one less step.

This is my grandmother’s favorite soup!

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Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque

Serves 8-12

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash

1 medium sweet potato

1 large onion

1 head of garlic

Olive oil

1/4 cup of fresh sage, finely chopped

2 tsp dried thyme

8 cups of vegetable broth

1 cup of half and half (or for a more decadent dish, light or heavy cream)

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

On a sturdy surface and with a very sharp knife, carefully cut the butternut squash in half vertically. Scoop out the seeds and strings and set aside. Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil, place the squash cut side down, and put into the oven.

Peel the sweet potato and cut into large chunks. Cut the onion into quarters and peel. Slice the top 1/4 off the head of garlic, place in a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap tightly. After the squash has been in the oven for 30 minutes, turn over to peel side down and place the sweet potato, onion, and garlic on the baking sheet as well.

Check the vegetables after 30 minutes and turn the onion and sweet potato if they are beginning to brown too quickly. The vegetables should be ready after another 30 minutes, a total of 90 minutes.

Optionally at this point, bring the vegetable broth and the reserved seeds and strings to a simmer in a large pot. This step is not required but does bring out a little extra fresh squash flavor.

Remove the vegetables and allow to cool enough so that the peel can be removed from the butternut squash. This usually can be done easily at this point, but the flesh can be scooped out if needed. Squeeze the garlic cloves from the head. Add the vegetables to a blender and puree until very smooth, adding broth if needed to encourage blending.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the sage and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Strain the broth and discard the solids if it has been simmering with the seeds. Add the broth and vegetable puree to the pot and bring to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the half and half (or other cream) and nutmeg, and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately with crusty whole grain bread.

Variation:

Curried Butternut Squash Bisque

Substitute 1-2 tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp chipotle powder for the sage and thyme. Cook the spices for 2-3 minutes to bring out the flavors.

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