As the chill of fall and winter sets in, Butternut Squash Bisque offers comfort in a bowl. This velvety soup marries the deep, rich flavor of butternut squash with the gentle sweetness of sweet potato. Ginger and nutmeg introduce a hint of spice, while the maple cream drizzle adds a touch of luxury. Served hot and garnished with pumpkin seeds and fresh thyme leaves, it's a quintessential dish for cozy evenings.
While you can have this creamy bisque ready to serve in under an hour, its true appeal lies in its simplicity. After just 15 minutes of prep, the enticing aroma will soon fill your kitchen as the soup comes to simmer: a promise of the comforting meal ahead. And should there be leftovers, they only improve with time, deepening in flavor by the next day.
Butternut Squash Bisque Ingredients
For the Soup:
- Butternut Squash: Choose a firm squash with a matte skin, free from soft spots or blemishes.
- Sweet Potato: It should have smooth, firm skin and even coloring. Avoid any with wrinkled skin or soft spots.
- Olive Oil: Use a good-quality extra virgin olive oil.
- Onion: A yellow onion will provide a balance of sweetness and bite.
- Garlic: Fresh cloves, plump and free from brown spots, are best.
- Chicken Broth: A low-sodium version gives you more control over the final salt content of the soup.
- Ginger: If using fresh ginger, select a piece that's firm and smooth. For ground ginger, be sure it's fresh and not past its expiration date.
- Nutmeg: Freshly grated will provide the most potent flavor, but pre-ground works as well.
- Fine Sea Salt: For even seasoning without overwhelming the dish.
- Ground White Pepper: Offers a subtle heat without the specks of black pepper.
- Heavy Cream: Be sure it's fresh and kept refrigerated.
For the Maple Cream:
- Heavy Cream: As above, freshness is key.
- Maple Syrup: Choose pure maple syrup, avoiding blends with high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors.
- Pumpkin Seeds: Choose raw seeds that can be toasted for added flavor.
- Fresh Thyme Leaves: Look for vibrant green leaves on firm stems. Avoid wilted or browned leaves.
Origins of Bisque
The term "bisque" traditionally refers to a rich, creamy soup made from puréed shellfish, particularly lobster. Originating in France, it became a culinary favorite for its velvety texture and deep flavor. Over time, the definition has broadened to include pureed vegetable soups, like Tomato Bisque and this version with butternut squash.
- Preparation is Key: Pre-measuring, cutting and having everything at hand (mise en place) makes the cooking process smoother.
- Uniformity Matters: When peeling and dicing the butternut squash and sweet potato, aim for uniform pieces. This helps with even cooking and a smoother blend when pureeing.
- Blending Technique: For a silky-smooth soup, consider using a high-powered blender or an immersion blender. If using a standard blender, remember to allow the soup to cool slightly and blend in batches. This avoids any pressure build-up and potential splatters.
- Vegetable Stock Swap: Replace chicken broth with vegetable stock for a vegetarian version.
- Spice It Up: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or a dash of chili flakes for a spicy kick.
- Dairy-Free Option: Opt for coconut milk or almond cream in place of heavy cream for a dairy-free alternative.
- Ginger Choices: Fresh ginger lends a brighter flavor, but ground ginger works well too.
- Roasted Flair: For added depth, roast the butternut squash and sweet potato instead of boiling them to caramelize their natural sugars.
- Herb Variations: Fresh rosemary or sage can be used in place of thyme for a different aromatic twist.
Storage and Reheating
Store the bisque in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It's best not to freeze it because the cream can make the soup separate or turn grainy when you thaw and reheat it. When you're ready to enjoy it again, just warm it up on the stovetop over medium heat, giving it a good stir to keep it smooth.
More Must-Try Soups
- Chicken Potato Soup
- Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup
- Mushroom Barley Soup
- West African Peanut Soup with Chicken
- Vegan Butternut Squash Soup
How to Make Butternut Squash Bisque
In a large pot, warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onions until clear, roughly 5 minutes. Add squash, sweet potato, garlic, and broth; bring to a boil, then simmer until vegetables soften, about 20 minutes. Blend the mixture until smooth. Mix in ginger, nutmeg, salt, white pepper, and cream; warm for another 5 minutes.
Adjust seasoning to taste. Combine cream and maple syrup for the maple cream. Serve soup hot, topped with a maple cream drizzle, pumpkin seeds, and thyme.
Butternut Squash Bisque
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion diced small
- 1 large butternut squash (~3 pounds), peeled and cut in to 1 ½ inch chunks
- 1 medium sweet potato cut in to 1 ½ inch chunks (peeled if desired)
- 4 large cloves garlic smashed and peeled
- 4 cups chicken broth (recipe note #1)
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (a microplane works best for this) or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper plus more to taste
- ½ cup heavy cream
For Maple Cream
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
- pumpkin seeds
- fresh thyme leaves
- Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook and stir until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add butternut squash, sweet potato, garlic, and broth to onion mixture; stir and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 to 25 minutes, or until the squash, sweet potato and garlic cloves are tender.
- Puree the soup with an immersion blender or standard blender (See recipe note #2). If using standard blender, return smooth soup to pot. Add ginger, nutmeg, salt, white pepper and cream; cook and stir until heated through, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Taste for seasoning and add more as desired.
- To make maple cream, stir cream and maple syrup together in a small bowl until well combined.
- Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle as desired with maple cream. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and fresh thyme leaves; serve hot.
- For a thinner soup, use 5-6 cups of broth.
- Take care when blending hot liquids in a standard blender. Allow the soup to cool slightly and fill your blender pitcher to the halfway mark and remove the center, vent cap from the blender lid. Cover the lid with a clean towel to catch any splatter and blend in batches until smooth. (Some high powered blenders have locking caps and won't require this step.)