Butternut Squash Bisque

It’s hard to believe that we are almost at the end of the season.  The market, the hay maze, the pumpkin patch, full of people, will be empty in a couple of weeks.  The straw jump will seem lonely without laughing, shrieking little kids and the local middle-schoolers (our live scarecrows) will have to find something else to do.  Pumpkin Festival time, sometimes interminable when we are in the middle of it, screeches to a halt, leaving us with our quiet, solid, winter-ready farm.  Even market shelves suggest a change; where you once found cantaloupe and watermelon, you will now find winter squash: acorn and butternut.  This dish—Butternut Squash Bisque— prepares us for the cold days and nights to come.

Hardy butternuts, unlike melons, keep.  The thick rind protecting their sweet rich flesh permits you to buy in quantity, stash in a cool dry garage or basement, and use until mid-winter.  Still, you will want to enjoy some squash now, and Butternut Squash Bisque combines all kinds of seasonal flavor.  It’s a little spicy (chilies) and a little fruity (apples and cider) and even a little exotic (ginger).  Mostly though, it’s just  good.

Here’s what you need:

1 good sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 good sized tart apples, peeled and chopped
48 oz. chicken stock
1 ½ C. apple cider
1 T. sambal oelek (Red Chili Paste) or 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
sour cream and shredded Gouda for garnish

Here’s what you do:

First, peel the butternut squash.  Squash is hard to peel, but it becomes infinitely easier if you have a good, old fashioned potato peeler.  (Funny thing– I don’t have a potato peeler, and end up borrowing one from my neighbor.)  All you have to do is cut off the top and bottom of the squash with a butcher knife and peel away.  Then, cut the squash in ½, remove the seeds, and chop roughly.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy pan.  Sauté the squash, carrots, onion, celery, ginger, and garlic for maybe 10 minutes until everything begins to soften and brown.  The ginger is optional; if you don’t have it, the soup will still taste delicious, but if you do have it, it adds a nice flavor.

Add the apples, the cider, and the chicken stock.  Simmer for about half an hour.

Add either the chipotle pepper or the sambal oelek.  Sambal oelek is red chili paste.  You can find it in the Thai section of the grocery store.  I use it in a lot of different dishes to add a bit of spice and it last a long time in the fridge.   If you do not like things at all spicy, skip this altogether.

Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool just a little.  Use an immersion blender to process it, or, if you don’t have one, use your regular blender to process it in batches.  The finished Butternut Squash Bisque should be smooth and creamy.

Serve with sour cream and a sprinkling of Gouda cheese (or just as-is).  Butternut Squash Bisque gets better after a day in the fridge. Enjoy.

…This, by the way, is the last blog of the season.  Hopefully, you have enjoyed the recipes  and, hopefully, you have been inspired to try a little farm-to-table cooking.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for visiting us at The Red Wagon and for sharing your own recipes with us.   Come see us one final time, stock up on squash and pumpkins and cabbage and apples, and get ready to join us again in the spring.

See You at The Market