Tuesday, November 2, 2010

First Course: Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque

It’s November! I’m having some trouble believing that October is already behind us, but now that it’s officially November I can start planning my Thanksgiving meal without looking like a complete lunatic. (Confession time: the actual meal planning usually starts in October, when “New Thanksgiving Favorites!” start showing up in my food magazines.) While I have a few staples that are always part of the big meal, I like to try something new every year. Often, that takes the form of a side dish or dessert.

This Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque is a perfect first course for Thanksgiving, or just a nice warm-up meal on a chilly weekday night. The basics here are squash chunks (in my case, leftovers from last weekend’s cassoulet), an apple and half an onion; the other ingredients are somewhat negotiable. This version of the recipe calls for vegetable broth, but I’ve used chicken broth in the past and like the extra layer of flavor it offers; whole milk is perfectly okay in place of evaporated milk (which I prefer to use as a way of cutting back the fat content in a lot of my cooking.) If you’re not a nutmeg nut, like I am, feel free to leave it out. Thyme is a terrific accompaniment to squash, so try that instead.

If you have an immersion blender, use that to smooth out the texture of this soup. If not, puree the soup in batches using a regular blender. Fill the blender only halfway full and make sure the lid is attached securely, since the soup will be hot. 


Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque


1 T. olive oil
½ large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups peeled butternut squash, cut into chunks
1 large tart apple (like Granny Smith), peeled and cored, cut into chunks
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can evaporated 2% milk
2 tsp. nutmeg


Heat the olive oil over medium heat; sauté the onions and garlic until they're soft. Add the squash, apples and vegetable broth; bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until squash and apples are tender. Blend with an immersion blender, or in a regular blender, until smooth. Add the evaporated milk and nutmeg; heat through, but don't let the mixture boil a second time.

I like to serve this soup with a dollop of sour cream on top. If you substitute thyme for the nutmeg, a sprinkling of chopped chives would also be a nice addition.


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