Summer in New York City has a kind of charmed quality, and come every autumn, I mourn the passing of another magical season of sun, strappy dresses, and (cold, gray, polluted) surf. But there are a few things making their annual debut in September that console me for the loss of summer: squashes, soups, the new season of 30 Rock, pies, and—ever since The Rob entered my life—New York Rangers hockey. This post concerns the first two, though future ones may touch upon the fourth…and possibly even the fifth, since God knows Alyce uses every excuse she can to gratuitously mention the Celtics. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
But I digress. On a recent evening, the aforementioned The Rob’s dinner suggestion was squash soup, which struck me as a perfect choice to put a positive spin on the fact that the temperature had just dropped 20 degrees from the day before. (Obviously, we have soup on the brain lately at BGC.)
The ingredients for a big quantity of this bisque are really cheap; it freezes very well (you’ll want to wait to add cream until defrosting the soup). I like to use chicken stock, but you can make this recipe vegetarian with vegetable stock.
Start with—wait for it—a butternut squash. (The one I used for this recipe was on the medium side, say 1 pound; one great thing about soup is, you can easily adjust the proportions of liquid and seasonings in relation to your main ingredient[s]).
Here are some suggestions for garnishes for the soup:
- Croutons (pictured)
- Toasted squash seeds (here's how to make them)
- Crumbled bacon (you can fry the bacon in the pan, then cook the squash in the leftover grease plus some butter)
- Chopped chives
- Chopped scallions
- Frizzled shallots
- Fried sage leaves
- Fresh thyme leaves
- Diced red pepper
- Dried red pepper flakes
- Shaved Parmesan cheese
- A slab of Brie or St. Andre cheese (this would work great in addition to chives or fresh herbs)
- Chopped toasted pecans
- Matchstick-sliced Granny Smith apple
- Matchstick-sliced jicama
- Roasted garlic cloves
- Mexican crema or creme fraîche (also good with chives)
Please leave your own suggestions in the comments!