Butternut Squash Bisque
No, this is not a dessert and yes, everything is okay. I promise to return to the sugar shack as soon as possible.
Believe it or not, I love cooking almost as much as I love baking, almost. And around this time of year, my soup obsession kicks into high gear. Right at the top of that list are soups that involve mushrooms, clams, lots of cream (because a soup isn't a meal if it's made with water), and my favourite fall ingredient, butternut squash!
Did you know that slicing and dicing a butternut squash isn't as difficult as it seems? It's actually quite fun (this is coming from someone who could spend hours shelling walnuts and slicing carrots, so take the word 'fun' with a grain of salt).
How to cut, and peel a butternut squash without killing yourself.
1) Use a sharp knife. A dull knife won't be able to handle the formidable squash. And be sure to cut over a non-slippery surface.
2) Carefully cut off an even slice from the top and the bottom of the squash. (On it's own, the butternut squash is a Weeble-Wobble.)
3) Lay the squash down on it's side (try to find as flat a spot on the squash as possible), slice it in half. Now you're left with a skinny half and a kind of pear-shaped half.
4) Grab the pear-shaped half and stabilize it on that area you sliced away at in step 2. Carefully slice it right down the middle so you're left with 2 long seed-filled halves. Repeat with the skinnier seedless half.
You should now have 4 butternut squash parts. 2 pear-shaped halves and 2 skinnier halves.
5) Using a soup spoon, or any large spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp (similar to gutting a pumpkin). If you're feeling ambitious, save the seeds for roasting.
6) Now you can peel away the thick skin. Be sure to peel until you get to the bright orange layer (try to get rid of the wispy green veins).
7) Using a sharp knife again, carefully slice the peeled halves into 1-inch chunks.
8) Make a mimosa, you just tackled something that most people hate!
Let's have some soup!
Butternut Squash Bisque
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion , cut in half and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 seeded and peeled, medium-size butternut squash (about 2 pounds) cut into 1-inch chunks
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup of whole milk
4 oz of cream cheese
3/4 cup of half & half cream (or whole milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Add the oil to a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan. Add the onion and rosemary. Stirring occasionally, cook over medium-low heat until the onion begins to brown.
Add the squash, stock, and milk.
Bring to just a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 -20 minutes or until the squash is tender (you should be able to easily pierce it with a fork).
Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly (about 10 minutes).
To puree, you can either use an immersion blender, standard blender, or a food processor. I used a food processor. [Note: If your blender or food processor are small, like mine, you may want to puree a little bit of soup at a time.]
Place the soup into the bowl of your food processor, or blender, and pulse a few times to loosen everything up.
Add the cream cheese (if you're blending half at a time, add only half the cream cheese).
Pulse/puree until smooth and evenly blended. Repeat with remaining soup if you only made half.
Transfer the bisque to a serving bowl or pot. [Note: Well covered, the bisque can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for 2 months.]
When you're ready to serve, reheat the bisque and add the cream, salt and pepper. If it's too thick, add a little bit of milk until it thins out to your liking.
Season as desired with extra pepper or freshly grated Parmesan cheese!
Makes 4-6 servings