By Twinkle VanWinkle
There’s nothing better than cuddling up with a warm bowl of soup. As much as I enjoy a chunky chili or stew, a creamy bowl of bisque is the best comfort on a chilly afternoon. The roasting part of the process really brings out the depth of the flavors, intensifying the sweetness by drawing out the sugars. Garlic becomes softer and richer, the onions become less acidic and the squash and apples caramelize slightly.
This recipe adds a touch of exotic flavor, similar to the trendy pumpkin spice that so many go wild for when fall arrives. Curry and cardamom transform what could be a pedestrian flavor combination into a delicate and sophisticated soup experience.
Curried Squash Bisque
Makes 6-8 servings
4 cups acorn squash, peeled and diced
2 cups apples, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
4 large cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 12 ounce can coconut milk (with the fat)
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red chili flakes for garnish
½ cup Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel and dice apples and onions and toss with olive oil.
Cut acorn squash in half, then scoop out the seeds and stringy part and throw in the trash. Slice into half moon slices and toss in olive oil with garlic, apples and onions.
Roast all on parchment-lined baking sheet for 20 to 25 minutes, or until squash and apples start to caramelize and brown.
Stir gently on pan once or twice during roasting to keep from sticking to the pan too much and to make sure everything gets nice and browned. Remove from oven and scrape the softened squash out of the rind. Place in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot with the apples, garlic and onions.
Stir in coconut milk and stock, then bring to a boil before lowering heat and cooking on medium for about 20 minutes.
»Add turmeric, cumin, curry, cinnamon and cardamom. Stir in the spices, then turn down to medium low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Add salt and pepper and stir, cooking about 5 more minutes.
Let soup cool, then blend with an immersion blender or in a food processor until you have a smooth mixture, with no lumps.
Drizzle the olive oil in while blending or processing. If you still have chunks, press through a fine strainer or food mill for a silky, smooth texture.
Warm back up to serve and garnish with red pepper flakes and 1 or 2 healthy dollops of yogurt stirred in.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to one week and in an airtight container in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.
Tips for better, creamier pureed soups:
Don’t blend all the liquids and solids together at once, when you have cooked down your soup. Save some liquid to the side so you can thin it if needed. Slowly add liquid as desired to get the right thickness. If you blend everything at once, you risk thinning it out too much.
When using a food processor, expect to have a few chunks. You will probably have to press your bisque through a strainer a few times for the creamiest outcome.
A lot of recipes say to add the oil or cream (in this recipe, there is added oil at the end). The best way to ensure a smoother emulsion is to add that last bit of oil, or cream, during the blending.
Twinkle VanWinkle is an Indianapolis-based food writer and experienced chef with Southern roots. She has more than 23 years of professional cooking under her apron strings and loves to share her unique perspective on food, foodways and culture with others. Needless to say, her family is very well-fed.