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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque

Butternut squash is one of my favorite things about this time of year. Yea yea yea, I love fall, you get it. But I really do love fall and all the seasonal foods that go with it-- like butternut squash risotto, pumpkin muffins, apple cider, thanksgiving stuffing, sweet potatoes, etc. I wanted to make a butternut squash soup that was fairly straight-forward without the bells and whistles of some recipes (like apple or curry- i.e., the recipe I posted last fall). This one really showcases the squash and leeks, which are the best ingredients in the soup. Very good!

1 3-lb butternut squash
1 stick unsalted butter
2 large shallots, diced
1 large leek, sliced thin
1/2 cup flour
5 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
3 bay leaves
2/3 cup half-and-half
salt and pepper

Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise remove the seeds and pulp. Roast both halves in a 375 degree oven, cut side down on a greased cookie sheet. Poke small holes in the rind of the squash before placing in the oven- cook for ~45 minutes. Remove from oven and scoop out the pulp. Set aside.

In a large soup pan melt the butter, adding the shallots and leeks. Stir occasionally and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the flour and stir constantly for 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly (the the broth mixture will thicken during this stage). Once boiling add the wine, bay leaves, and squash. Stir, breaking up the squash and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Blend (with a stick blender or stand blender) and return to pot. Add the half-and-half and taste for salt and pepper. Keep warm and either make a sauteed shrimp topping or a pancetta leek topping... or all 3 in one. Mmm.

Pancetta/Leek Topping
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 ounces diced pancetta
2 leeks, thinly sliced
3/4 pound raw, deveined, tail-less shrimp

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the pancetta and sliced leeks and cook, stirring frequently until fat is rendered from pancetta and leeks are lightly browned and a bit crispy. Just before finishing, add the shrimp and saute just until cooked through. Dollop a fair amount on the top of each bowl and serve. You do not want to skip this step. Insanely good. 

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