Monday, November 14, 2011

Butternut Squash Bisque- A Perfect Thanksgiving Appetizer!

I set aside every Sunday to spend in my kitchen.  Life has been a bit crazy the last few months, and with all of the running around, I am not always guaranteed quality kitchen time during the week, so I set aside Sundays for nothing but me, my special "cooking" play list, and my fridge full of groceries.  Often I make soups to last the week for lunch, or I'll bake to my little hearts content, trying to make myself more comfortable with the processes involved with baking.  This week, after my disappointing visit to Garden at the Cellar to try their Butternut Squash Bisque, I couldn't get the idea of rich, creamy soup out of my mind.  I decided that making my own batch, to my own specifications was the only way to remedy the situation.

I began with half of a butternut squash- those suckers are pretty big, and I knew that I don't need to be eating a ton of creamy bisque's.  After slicing it in half, peeling the outside and then removing the seeds, I cut the squash down into 1.5 inch pieces, or there abouts.  I placed them onto a baking sheet, preheated the oven to 400 degrees, and then tossed the squash with 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped sage, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or enough to evenly coat the squash) and about 3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup-basically just a sparse drizzle to give a hint of maple-y sweetness.  I roasted the squash for about 20 minutes, until the pieces were fork tender.  I do need to note- you want to watch these pretty carefully- because of the sugar in the syrup there is a high risk of burning them and ending up with a pretty foul flavor, but if you keep an eye on them- it will work perfectly.

While the squash cooked I made a quick "stock" from 1/3 cup chopped sweet onion, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, another 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh sage, and a bottle of Pumpkin beer.  I began with a medium size sauce pan over medium high heat and melted 2 teaspoons of butter, and then added the onion and the garlic.  As they began to sweat I added the sage, salt and pepper.  Then finally, I poured in the beer and left it to boil and reduce.  About 10 minutes later it had reduced by 1/4 and had great flavor of sweet onions, sage and the lovely pumpkin beer. 

The grossest looking photo ever- but it illustrates my point
Once the squash had finished roasting, I transferred it to my food processor, and then strained in the beer stock, and pureed the two together.  Once finely pureed I then went the extra step that I feel is so necessary to create a good soup- I ran the liquid through my chinoise- a cone shaped strainer made of fine mesh.  Because the strainer is so fine, it takes a fair amount of added effort to push the liquid through, but what finally pushes through is silky smooth.  I reheated this final liquid on the stove and added just 1/4 cup of heavy cream while it cooked. 

My final step was to create a little adornment and combined even parts of sour cream and apple cider to make a perfect drizzle for my bowl of bisque.

The result was a soup rich in flavor of with the wonderful fall flavor of the squash, a subtle sweetness, those traces of wonderful warming spices of sage and cinnamon and nutmeg, and a creamy richness that warmed my soul.  This is what I had been dreaming about. 

Butternut squash bisque is simple to make, and would make a wonderful appetizer for Thanksgiving.  It could be made a head, read a couple of days ahead, and then frozen to be heated up on the day when so many other dishes are being created.  It is very rich and decadent, so a little goes a long way...

4 comments:

In and Around Town said...

sounds like a lovely fall dish! Perfect for thanksgiving. Glad you solved your craving ;)

Megan said...

I think I have a butternut squash bisque craving now! Sounds so good! I need to start designating some me time. I've been feeling overwhelmed lately.

Michelle Collins said...

I'd love a bowl of this right now - looks delicious, and perfect for the season!

bed and breakfast luray said...

Thanks for sharing this post. Thanksgiving is very near so appetizer will be an excellent item as to make Thanksgiving Day the perfect day.

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