My first experience with butternut bisque was at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, the best I have ever had. I can still recall the deep flavor of the butternut shining through. Through many experiments I figured the way to get this wonderful flavor is by roasting the butternut and letting it caramelize. I serve this in small bowls it is the perfect avenue to any meal, smooth, sultry and lingering. Pumpernickel croutons and roasted pumpkin seeds are a perfect accompaniment, especially at Fall time.
1 large butternut squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons chopped shallots
4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons sherry (optional)
a slice of fresh ginger
a sprig of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup heavy cream
sour cream for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
1. Cut butternut squash in half or quarters and place on a baking pan lined in foil. Spread butter, brown sugar, maple syrup and shallots on top of squash halves. Bake at 375º until fork tender, approximately one hour.
2. Remove from oven cool for 10 minutes. Trying to keep bits of shallot, remove pulp and seeds and scoop out remaining butternut squash discarding the skin.
3. Bring chicken broth, sherry, ginger, thyme and bay leaf to a full boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add butternut squash and shallots and simmer for 15 minutes more. Remove the ginger, thyme sprig and bay leaf.
5. In a processor, puree the soup in small batches until smooth, return purees soup to the saucepan and add the heavy cream in a slow steady stream, stir constantly.
6. Heat thoroughly, taste and add salt and pepper accordingly.
Serve Butternut Bisque in small bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg.