~ Easy Rosemary-Kissed Butternut Squash Bisque ~
This sinfully-simple, creamy-rich butternut squash bisque is one of my favorite go-to Turkey Day specialties. I don't serve it every year, but on years when my husband has harvested a bumper crop, it starts off our traditional feast. It looks pretty and tastes divine. There's more: It is indeed easy to prepare, and, it can be made two-three days in advance too. All it needs is a gentle reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave and it's ready to take to the table and serve.
A bit about butternut squash: Butternut squash is one of our healthy super-foods. That’s great but I'd eat it even if it weren't, and, when it comes to savory applications, I prefer its subtly-sweet taste it to the noticeably blander pumpkin. For the most part, all Winter squash are pretty quick and easy to prepare. My favorite methods for rendering them tender and edible are roasting and steaming, as boiling, in my opinion, leaches out whatever flavor they have to offer. Like pumpkin, butternut squash falls into the category of Winter squash -- which differs from Summer squash (like zucchini and yellow crookneck) in that their skin is hard and inedible. Once fully-matured on the vine and harvested, if kept in a cool, dry place, they can be stored for months. Winter squash was one of the three main crops planted by the Native Americans. Known as the "three sisters" (corn, beans and squash) they were prized for their long shelf life.
A bit about bisque: It's a thickish, rich, finely-textured 'soup' usually consisting of puréed seafood and/or vegetables (and occasionally poultry), along with a copious amount of cream and spices suited to each version, which varies regionally and from cook to cook. Bisques originated in France, but nowadays, they're made all over the world -- with lobster bisque being the universal favorite. Bisques are easy to make, but, the cooking process can be a bit lengthy because it relies on time to concentrate the flavor. Bisque is often referred to as "the refined city relative" of "the less-sophisticated country" chowder (a rustic, chunky, cream-based soup).
Every butternut squash bisque should taste like a butternut squash. It needs no silly celery, onion, garlic or carrots in it. It needs no overpowering spice of any type except for good old-fashioned salt & pepper, &, save that white wine or persnickity sherry for drinking!
A bit about my butternut squash bisque: It's as easy to make as it is delicious, and, because when roasted, butternut squash takes on a lovely, subtly-sweet flavor of its own, unlike most other versions, I do not muddle it up with the opinionated flavors of other vegetables (like celery and/or onion) or overpowering spices (insert names here). My bisque is simply a creamy-dreamy mixture of unpretentious stock, cream and roasted, puréed butternut squash seasoned with some salt and pepper then kissed for a minute or two with the flavor of fresh rosemary sprigs. Each portion gets a dollop of crème fraîche and the bowls of this lusciously refined bisque make their way to my the table.
To roast the squash:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
~ Step 1. Prep the squash as directed above and brush the yellow interior surface of each half with the oil. Place them, side-by-side, oiled-sides-down on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.
~ Step 2. Roast on center rack of preheated 350° oven, until a knife can easily be inserted through to the baking pan, 45-50 minutes.
~Step 4. Place the squash in the work bowl of food processor fitted with the steel blade. Season with 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper. With motor running, purée for 15-20 seconds. Transfer the purée to a 2-quart measuring container and stir in 3 1/2 cups generically-seasoned chicken or vegetable stock (2, 14 1/2-ounce cans).
~Step 5. Transfer to a 4-quart, preferably wide-bottomed, saucepan (to promote reduction at the end). Add two-three sprigs fresh rosemary, adjust heat to a gentle simmer, partially cover, and continue to simmer until rosemary has lost it's bright green color, about 8-9 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary. Add and stir in 1 cup cream. Adjust heat to a gentler, steady simmer than before, and, continue to cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until reduced slightly and nicely thickened, 14-15 minutes.
Can be prepared two-three days in advance & refrigerated. Gently reheat on stovetop or in microwave.
Special Equipment List: cutting board; large chef's knife; tablespoon; pastry brush; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; food processor; 2-quart measuring container; 4-quart saucepan
Cook's Note: For another one of my favorite bisque recipes, which I particularly like to serve garnished with bacon for brunch and grilled Gruyère cheese sandwiches, ~ Get Out Your Whisk & Make this Tomato Bisque ~ can be found in Categories 2, 11, 14, 18, 20 & 21.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)