Thursday, July 4, 2013

Soup Series, 7: Deborah Gray's Squash and Chestnut Bisque


Thanksgiving in California might not conjure up snow covered streets and parka clad inhabitants, but temperatures can dip and we respond enthusiastically to the change in the weather by lighting fires and creating warming soups.

I love all kinds of soups at any time of the year, but this is a soup that is requested by my husband’s family at Thanksgiving each year and I happily comply, saving it for just that time of the year to make it feel more special. Although there could be nothing easier, it provides an elegant and healthy entrée into the heavy Thanksgiving turkey meal. There are many different variations on this type of recipe, but this is my own twist.
Squash and Chestnut Bisque

1 butternut squash (3lb)
1 small onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 Tbs. olive oil
½ cup chopped cooked chestnuts or canned water chestnuts – I actually entirely substitute ½ cup chopped pecans, because I like the flavour and I usually have those on hand
6 cups fat-skimmed chicken soup
1 cup low-fat milk
½ tsp ground coriander
Freshly ground pepper
Salt (about 1 tspn)

Peel and seed squash, and dice. Peel onion and chop.

Warm oil in a 5 to 6-quart pot over medium-high heat, stir onion and celery until onion is limp and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add ½ cup pecans (or chestnuts) and stir until lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add squash, salt, coriander, pepper and broth. Cover pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until squash mashes easily when pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Add milk.
In a blender, whirl soup, a portion at a time, until smooth. Return soup to pan, add salt to taste (it will depend on how salty the stock is) and reheat on medium until steaming, but not boiling. Garnish with chopped pecans. About 8 servings.

I can’t help but think of wine pairings with any meal. This one would pair well with a number of crisp whites with good minerality, such as Viognier, white Burgundy, Pinot Blanc, dry Riesling, or even Verdelho.

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