Saturday, May 01, 2010

French “Pumpkin” (Butternut) Bisque

Here's another recipe from my recent Athens Banner-Herald newspaper column on soups throughout the ages. While in the old days this would have been a winter soup, butternuts are now available year-round and this soup isn't too heavy for a meal in the spring.

French pumpkins, like their Italian relatives, are large, ribbed, flattened globes. Some farmers in Georgia grow them as a “heritage” vegetable. In the absence of the real thing, I prefer butternut or kabocha squash over American pie pumpkins, which have a heavy, different flavor.

This pumpkin soup, which hails from Provence, typically uses homemade chicken broth.

French “Pumpkin” (Butternut) Bisque

1 medium-small onion, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1 medium-large (1/2 pound) baking potato, peeled, in 1/2-inch cubes
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence or oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium-large (1 3/4 pounds) butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, in 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus to taste
1/2 cup cream
Minced parsley for serving

In soup pot, fry onion in olive oil until softened.

Add broth, wine, potato, herbs and pepper.

Simmer 5 minutes, covered. Stir occasionally.

Add squash plus salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 10-12 minutes, or until squash is breaking up.

Remove bay leaves. With slotted spoon, lift chunks into blender and purée, or use immersion blender in the soup pot.

Add cream and simmer 2 minutes. Add a little water if too thick.

Taste and add salt, as needed.

The soup is best if made ahead, refrigerated, and reheated to serve. Sprinkle lightly with minced parsley.


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