Updated: Oct 17
Few things this side of Pumpkin Spice Shampoo betoken autumn like Butternut Squash & Apple Soup. But please don’t call it “Autumn Bisque.”
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Blender or Food Processor
1 Large (or 2 Medium) Butternut Squash
4 Granny Smith Apples
1 Large Onion
2 Medium Stalks of Celery
1 Large (or 2 Medium) Carrot
1 Pint Apple Cider
Water, as needed
Salt & Pepper to taste
Herbs (like maybe Sage)
Peel & de-seed squash and cut into chunks. (This is a physically demanding task. If you don’t mind paying a lot more, some grocers offer it peeled, chunked, and ready to go.) Place pieces in the large steamer and get it started. While squash is steaming, roughly chop onion, peeled carrots, and celery. Gently sauté them in butter until they are fragrant. Peel & de-seed apples, cut into pieces, and add to saucepan. Add cider and simmer slowly.
When the steaming squash is smash-with-a-fork soft, puree the contents of the saucepan with enough of the squash to achieve the desired consistency and then pour it into the large pot. Puree the remainder of the squash with just enough water to duplicate the desired consistency and add to the pot. Taste it at this point and you’ll likely be underwhelmed. But don’t worry, for now the fun begins–
It's time to season it.
As is my usual method, I perused and reviewed multiple recipes in search of the common denominators and variables. I found a wide variety of seasonings, from fresh sage to curry, but I decided to save a lot of screwing around and greatly simplify them into two schools of thought– If you want your version of this soup to remind you of Thanksgiving DINNER, use the Bell’s Seasoning… and if you’d rather it be reminiscent of Thanksgiving DESSERT, use the Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend. The rest is detail– salt & pepper, of course, and a judicious pinch of cayenne if you like a tiny kick of heat in the background. As always, I encourage you to make this recipe your own.
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REMINDER– When seasoning large batches of soups and stews, scoop out a pint or so… add HALF of the seasonings to it, mix well, and then mix it back into the whole batch. Let it sit for a bit, taste, and repeat the process as needed.
NOTEWORTHY– Many of the recipes call for chicken stock, but I’ve never found it absolutely necessary and prefer to keep my version vegetarian, as I often cook for large crowds and strive to be as inclusive as possible. Graduation to pure veganism is easily achieved by replacing the butter with grape seed oil. On the other hand, rich TURKEY stock fortifies this soup into a fabulously satisfying antidote to the season’s first nasty weather.
AND FINALLY– I’ve seen versions of this soup pretentiously described as “Autumn Bisque”-- a lovely-sounding name indeed. However, the classic definition of “bisque” requires the inclusion of shellfish and is thickened with rice… and as one who cringes every time someone says “hysterical” instead of “hilarious,” I have a bias toward protecting our language from erosion through sloppy misuse.