Butternut Squash Bisque Soup
1 1/2 to 2 lbs butternut squash, peeled (skin cut off), seeded, and cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks.
Save seeds for roasting (olive oil, salt pepper, 425 degrees until brownish) or throw them into your compost with the skin and stringy pulp.
Try buying squash with a long trunk, that is where the meat is and has less seeds. Cut off skin.
2 Tbls unsalted butter (Land O Lakes has a great taste)
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly in a colander to remove any and all dirt.
Salt and Pepper
4 C's vegetable broth (store-bought or make your own stock by bringing a variety of vegetables to a boil. Don't worry about skins or even cutting them nice. Once at a boil, then simmer until all the life is out of the veggies, easy!) --Then I like to strain it using a cheesecloth and throw away these bland veggies who gave all their goodness to your stock!
1 or 2 Cups water
3 fresh sprigs of thyme
1 fresh sprig of lemon thyme (lemon variety optional, I grow herbs, so it was convenient).
2 Bay leaves
Pinch of cayenne pepper (These are easy to dehydrate if you grow them, otherwise, just use store-bought out of the herb section)
Sour Cream, or whatever garnish you desire (optional).
Note: The reason this soup is so flavorful is because it is done in layers, layers of flavor. So, don't skip a step and put everything into one pot all at once, because it will not turn out as good.
1. Place squash in a bowl, cover and microwave until fork can easily poke squash, 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Set aside when done.
2. While the squash is cooking, melt butter in Dutch oven (I used an enamel coated cast-iron one). Add squash, leek and 1 tea salt; cook on high, stirring occasionally, until squash pieces begin to break down and brown fond (browned squash bits stick to sides or bottom of pan) forms in bottom of pan, 10 to 13 minutes to get the squash brown.
3. Add 2 Cups vegetable broth and scrape the bottom and side of pot to loosen and dissolve fond. Add remaining 2 Cups of broth, 1 C of water, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and cayenne. Bring back to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until leeks are fully tender, 7 minutes. I low-simmered mine for an additional 25 minutes to get more flavor concentration, however, it is not necessary.
4. Remove and discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Working in batches using your blender only 2/3rds full -- not more-- and process in batches until smooth, 2 minutes.
5. This step 5 is optional, it depends on how thick or runny you like your bisque. I did not need to do step 5 because I like a thick bisque. Return soup to pot and bring to simmer, thinning with up to 1 Cup of water to desired consistency. If you want to make it more decantant (for me it becomes too rich if I do this, but you can use heavy cream or cream fresh instead of this last cup of water; --or warm up the cream and place it in a gravy boat so that it can be poured into the soup as desired by taste). Cream can make pretty decorative patterns in soup too. The heavier the cream, the less likely it will curdle, i.e.: milk you would have to take more care in warming up than the cream.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. (Optional) Serve with dollop of sour cream, pistachio's, chives, cilantro, fried leeks or onions. This time I used sour cream, chives, cilantro and pistachios. Next time I will fry leeks, yum. ;-) I can share that recipe too, if anyone wants to fry some leeks!
Light a candle and Enjoy! Lol, I found this unique candle on the internet and thought it was cute. It was at: http://www.100candles.com/items/item_8359.htm for anyone interested.