If there is a God up there handing out Divine Purposes, surely he intended butternut squash to devote its existence to soup. This unassuming, taupe-colored gourd -- currently selling for about $1 a pound -- blossoms with rich, hearty and sweet flavor when cooked. Butternut bisque is a very simple recipe that showcases that mouthwatering flavor and smooth, buttery texture. Make extra to reheat on cold winter nights: This soup will warm your soul and leave you scraping the bowl.
This soup is very easy to "veganize." In honor of World Vegan Month, I've listed animal-free options as well.
1 large butternut squash, about 4 pounds
1 medium onion
2 large carrots
3 large celery stalks
2 garlic cloves
Juice of one half lemon
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt or soy creamer
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher or sea salt
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Sour cream or Tofutti Sour
Melt the butter in a large saucepan or pot, over medium heat. Add the onions, coarsely chopped, and sliced garlic. Stir in the thyme, cinnamon and cayenne. Let the mixture cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring it occasionally.
Meanwhile, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, setting them aside for a toasted snack. Cut the squash into roughly 1-inch cubes, being sure to cut off all the peel. Cut the carrots and celery into similar-sized chunks.
When the onions have softened, add the chopped squash and vegetables to the pan along with the broth, cream and enough water to nearly cover the mixture (at least 3 cups). Cover the pan and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes or until the squash and vegetables are tender.
Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender or food processor, and puree until you have smooth, velvety soup. You may need to do this in batches; make sure you puree the soup until the texture is fine and silky.
Serve your soup with dolloped sour cream, crusty peasant bread and a dry white wine or Pinot Noir.
image: Sabra Krock.