My aunt and I were on a road trip together last fall (which is its own whole story) and one of the most memorable meals we had been a delightful lunch at a cafe on lake Winnipesaukee. We had just gone wild at the Keepsake Quilting store in Connecticut and were looking for a lunch of champions. We almost missed it, a little stand alone house converted to a cafe that just looked appealing. In fact I think we turned around to go back to it. I would tell you the name of it if I could remember. (see photo below)
I DO remember we split a lobster roll, the best I’d ever had, and each had a bowl of butternut bisque, wherein we both licked the bowl clean, looking over at the others bowls to see if maybe she missed a bit.
It had a sweetness from carrots and apples and wine and perhaps a bit from the butternut. It had a special something from the bacon, a smokyness. I knew I had to duplicate this as best I could!
It is my go-to soup now for all holidays or dinners. The cafe cook/owner, of course, did not give me his recipe. But the woman who waited the tables gave me a basic run down. I explained I was all the way from California and didn’t own a restaurant and would never dream of stealing his recipe for profit cross-my-heart-hope-to-die-stick-a-quilting-needle-in-my-eye!
So, for future me, who may forget how its done, and anyone else looking for a delicious soup to share, here you go. It was too much to call it “butternut, bacon, apple, leek and more” soup, but there are lots of goodies in it.
Butternut and Bacon Bisque
you will need:
- bacon, 3-5 slices
- 1 butternut squash
- 1/2 an onion
- 1 leek, the white part (or just use more onion if you don’t have or want leeks)
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 medium size carrot
- 1 medium size apple, peeled, cored and diced
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- herbs of choice. I like rosemary and thyme. Also 21 Season Salute from Trader Joes or any seasoning that strikes your fancy.
- a pinch of nutmeg
- white wine
- chicken or vegetable broth, at least 1 quart box
- 1 pint of cream
- salt and pepper of course
First, lets discuss the butternut squash. I have roasted it and I have simmered it. Simmering was easier, but they both work.You need to cut your squash in half and remove the seeds, kind of like you would a pumpkin, but a bit easier since its sliced open. If you are roasting, set the oven for 350 and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. Lay both halves of squash on the baking sheet, now cleaned of seeds, and brush or spray oil on it. Place into the oven and bake until tender, probably about 1 1.2 hours. Pierce with a knife to test for tenderness.
If steaming in a pot, peel and dice the squash and set aside. They will go in with the other vegetables.
The soup base:
in a large soup pot, an enameled iron pot or stainless steel stock pot will work, cook your slices of bacon. You can cut them up ahead or crumble after, but cook out the fat and take out the bacon when just barely crisp, not burned. Depending on how fat your bacon was, you might want to pour some excess out. You want enough left in the pan to saute your vegetables in, at least 2-3 tablespoons.
While that is frying, dice and slice your vegetables for sauteing. Slice up the leek, onion, carrot and celery and saute in the bacon fat for about 5 minutes.Add your seasoning of choice and garlic, and let it saute as well to bring out the flavors. Now add a good splash or 2 of white wine and let the alcohol burn off for a minute. I probably use, oh, 1/3 of a cup of so? Just a good glug or two.
Add your diced apple and squash to the pot. Now put in about an inch of the broth of choice, either vegetable, chicken or a blend, and put a lid on it. Turn the heat to a medium low, so it is simmering and keep an eye. When the squash is tender, the apples will be too.
So now, your bacon is done, your veggies and apples are sautéed, steamed and tender. Put all this into a food processor or blender. (I use my Ninja blender, blending Ninja style!)
Add back the bacon and enough broth to get the blender or processor going. You are going to puree this soup, bacon and all. Blend, blend, blend.
Puree, puree, puree.
Add more broth until you have a good soup base, not too watery because now its time to add the cream.
I like to put in back in a pot on the stove and add in the cream, adjusting the flavors with salt and pepper at this point. Yes, you could add the cream in the blender, then put it back in the pot to warm up.
Now it is done! Still too thick for your tastes? Add more broth, half n half or water.
Sometimes I decorate it with some sour cream dollops swirled in the middle. Or perhaps a sprig of parsley or cilantro.
This was a very apple themed dinner. I did not plan it as such, but I had apples in the bisque, apples with sweet potatoes, diced apples in the salad, Cornish game hens (no apples there) and gluten free apple crisp for dessert.Wish I had a picture of that, but we inhaled it pretty darn quick. Our guests had brought a fine red wine from Spain.
Oh wait, here is an old picture.This is pretty much what it looked like. Apples with caramel sauce poured over and an oat and gluten free flour blend for the topping, with lots sugar and some butter of course.