Monday, November 22, 2010

Apple and Butternut Bisque

This recipe is just beautiful and just delicious. While I mostly love to make soup because I think it's a fabulous away to incorporate lots of vegetables, and is terrific for a make-ahead one-dish meal, this bisque is much more appropriate as an elegant first course. It's not incredibly rich, and although the flavors emerge through many layers, it is smooth an silky enough that a little goes a long way. And with the bright golden hue contrasted against the creamy lustre and luxe gold rim of my grandmother's Lenox bone china teacup, even just a few ounces of this glorious taste of fall feels like a transcendent warmth.

Apple Butternut Bisque

I basically followed the Calvados-Laced Squash Soup recipe, but I've retyped it here because I added a couple extra ingredients, and made only a 1/2 recipe (which would be plenty for appetizer-sized servings for 10), so the quantities below reflect my recipe exactly.

3 pounds butternut squash (about 1 large), halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped

1 small granny smith apple
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

couple shakes of ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup brandy
1 quart low-salt chicken broth
6 ounces evaporated milk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon warm water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove seeds and brush squash flesh with 1 tablespoon oil. Place on prepared baking sheet, cut side down. Roast squash until very tender, about 1 hour. Cool.

Meanwhile, melt butter with remaining oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion, apple, cinnamon, bay, salt, and peppers to taste. Sauté until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add brandy and simmer until almost all of liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Discard cinnamon stick pieces and bay. Add squash, broth, and milk, and puree until smooth (an immersion blender works perfectly!) Stir in vinegar.

Mix sour cream, 1 tablespoon warm water, and ground cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. Serve in teacups. If you have a clean craft/paint syringe, use it to make a decorative squiggle on each serving, otherwise use a small dollop.
Can be made a day or two ahead, reheat before serving.

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