Winter Squash Bisque

By • September 3, 2010 2 Comments

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Author Notes: This sunset-hued soup is smooth and heartwarming, perfect for cold winter days. The combination of spices places it somewhere in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It freezes really, really well, so it's perfect to make in advance. My husband, Ameir, also calls this "Taiyyaba's Butternut Squash Soup That'll Knock Your Socks Off." Fancy it up for a feast with a drizzle of cream on top!Taiyyaba

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Serves many, many people

  • 1 medium or small butternut squash, small-diced
  • 3 carrots, diced (or enough to make equal parts with the squash)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or diced
  • 1 can canellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 - 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • about 1 quart broth
  • 1-2 teaspoons powdered cumin
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoons powdered coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Put the diced squash and carrots in a big bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with the spices. I put much less in this soup than I would for a curried vegetable soup, to let the naturally subtle flavor of the butternut squash come out. I added just enough so I could lightly smell the spices. The cinnamon adds a beautiful semi-sweetness – I really suggest trying it. Cinnamon is used in a lot of Morrocon dishes with red meat (which is often cooked with pumpkin – so this is a very well-tested flavor profile!)
  2. Spread the carrot and squash onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and roast at 450F for about 7-10 minutes, then turn over and roast the other side for the same amount. In about 20 minutes total, depending on how small you’ve cut the vegetables, they should be soft enough to smoothly poke a fork through.
  3. At this point, turn the broiler on and give the vegetables some color. This part is not necessary, but it adds another layer of flavor.
  4. While the vegetables are roasting, heat some olive oil in a pan and add the onions. (Just the onions!). For this soup, I caramelize them. Stir to combine the onions with the oil, then spread in a single layer. Cook over medium-low heat for about 5-10 minutes, then sprinkle with sugar (brown or white) and cook for about 20 minutes.
  5. After about 15 minutes, you can add the garlic too, since we’ll need it for this soup. While we’re caramelizing, might as well get some sweetness into the garlic as well! You’ll see the onions start to get golden brown and very soft. Taste as you go and get them as dark as you want (or have time for – truly caramelized onions can cook for an hour or more.)
  6. Once the onions are sweet and caramelized, add the white beans to the pot. Also add the diced tomatoes. If you want the soup more tomato-flavored, use two cans. Let the beans and tomatoes simmer till the beans are tender, about 15 minutes.
  7. Add the roasted vegetables back into the pot. At this point, you’ve got a thick stew to eat over couscous, with some grilled steak. Stop here, if you like.
  8. Pour half or more of the vegetables into a blender. Add 1/2 quart of stock and blend until smooth. You can leave it half chunky, or blend it all completely smooth. Add more stock until it is the consistency you like it. I usually end up using the whole quart of stock.
  9. That’s it! Roast veggies, cook onions, cook beans, puree. How easy is that?! I’ve even roasted the veggies the day before and just cooked the rest up the day of serving. If you dice the vegetables beforehand and keep them in the fridge, this soup can be on the table in 30 minutes. Freeze it in ziploc bags for a hot dinner on a cold day. When you reheat, you might need to add more stock, so have a little extra in the fridge (or you could use milk for something creamier).

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