Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanksgiving dinner: Butternut squash bisque

I love Thanksgiving dinner. No, I mean I really love it. It has always been my favorite meal of the year, and I've actually always insisted on the exact same meal for Christmas, just so I can eat it again (although I am trying to branch out a little more to honor my hubby's preferences). I love turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie, apple pie, green bean casserole...and I really love leftovers.

So when Phyl, host of our pumpkin dinner a few weeks ago, offered (with maybe a little pressure?) ;) to host a virtual Thanksgiving dinner, I was so excited! So excited, in fact, that when he asked us to pick a menu item, I just couldn't decide; I love them all! I went back and forth (our famous mashed potatoes? my dad's awesome sausage wild rice stuffing? my mother-in-law's pumpkin pie? my mom's yummy turkey?) until finally all of the categories had been taken by others and I was left with........soup. Which we've never served at Thanksgiving dinner. Hm.

Luckily, Phyl recently sent several of us a great new Thanksgiving cookbook, so I started paging through...and came across butternut squash bisque. Now, I've mentioned our abundance of squash on more than one occasion; clearly, this soup was meant to be.

The recipe states that the soup can be made up to three days ahead of time, so I made the soup on Monday night and served it on Wednesday. It was easy to make, delicately-flavored, and delicious! It's one of those soups that feels creamy and indulgent, but actually only has a small amount of cream, with much of the texture imparted from the squash itself. I thought the garnish of fried sage leaves and popcorn seemed a little fussy, but they actually only took a few minutes to pull together and they really added something special to the final product; I'd definitely include them again.

Butternut squash bisque
from The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan

for the soup
2 pounds butternut squash (I used a 4.5 pound squash and used half for the soup, which ended up being about 2 pounds of puree)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 large granny smith apples, halved and cored
4 cups chicken broth (DM recommends homemade stock, but gives the alternative of canned low-sodium broth, which is what I used)
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I probably used closer to 1/2 tsp)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper (the recipe actually says "salt and pepper to taste" but that drives me crazy; I need a starting point. I used 1/2 tsp of each, which seemed close to perfect, and then I sprinkled just a tiny pinch more)

for the garnish
3/4 c oil (I used safflower)
1/3 c fresh sage leaves 
kosher salt
popcorn (DM suggests a mini bag of microwave popcorn, but we never have that in the house; I just had hubby make me a small batch of air-popped)
1. Preheat the oven to 350º.
2. Peel and cube the squash into 2" pieces. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a jelly roll pan. Place the apples, cut side down, on the sheet. Roast for 30 - 35 minutes or until the squash and apples are tender. (I didn't read this until too late, and roasted the squash the way I always do: peeled it, sliced it in half, took out the innards, and roasted the halve on a buttered piece of foil for about 2 hours. I added the apples when there were 30 minutes left on the timer.)
3. Purée the squash and apple (without the skins) in a food processor until smooth. Add 1 cup stock and process until smooth.
4. In a large (4-quart) saucepan, whisk the squash/apple mixture, the rest of the chicken stock, the cream, the nutmeg, and the sugar. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Make the garnish: heat the oil in an 8" sauté pan until it reaches 365º. Fry half the sage leaves for 5 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon, and place on a paper-towel-lined plate. Then fry the second half.
6. To serve: ladle the soup into bowls or mugs and garnish with the sage leaves and popcorn.

Be sure to check Phyl's site later this week for the rest of this yummy Thanksgiving meal!


  1. My husband would love holidays at your house. =) I'm not a huge fan of turkey, so I refuse to make it again at Christmas. I'd be happy with repeating everything else on the table. The soup looks delicious. I keep trying to like squash soup, but can't quite get there. Maybe this recipe is the one for me. =)

  2. I've had my eye on this recipe since I got the book. Now I know I have to make it. Your soup looks so good!! And I'm glad to hear the garnishes were worth the effort, as I thought about skipping them, too.

    Thanks for joining me for Thanksgiving dinner (my favorite meal of the year, too)!

  3. Oh I love butternut squash and I'm sure I'd love this soup! What a fun and simple soup that would compliment a Thanksgiving meal perfectly!

  4. It looks great. I'm going to use the recipe I have (squash and pears) but the process from this recipe. And I'm going to buy a bit of popcorn!

  5. I never see soup at our Thanksgiving meal either, but I think it should be included. I love making soups. Good recipe pick! I've only made butternut squash soup once and I loved it. Unfortunately, hubby was not a fan of it, so I ate the soup for several days til it was gone. I like the idea of using apples in the soup. Sounds delicious!!

  6. I've served soup at Thanksgiving but it kinda fills up space I want for pie, lol! I'd make this soup any old week of the fall or winter though, so thanks for previewing it for us. And now that you've mentioned all those yummy recipes you make for Thanksgiving I hope that you blog them - especially that stuffing - pretty please?

  7. That looks great, have it presented so nicely with those little pumpkins and that pretty cup. I will mark this one to try soon...that popcorn idea is fun. Phyl "pressured" by anyone? Oh, no,!

  8. I'm a huge fan of butternut squash so I definitely have to try this recipe. I'm intrigued by the apple addition. Thanks for sharing!