Butternut Squash Bisque

img_0305A few month ago, my fantastic friend, Sophia, posted on Facebook that she was making a vegan butternut squash bisque, though she is not vegan herself. I immediately asked for her recipe as she is known for her skills around the kitchen.  I was super curious how she was going about getting the creamy consistency of a bisque. I’ve made cashew cream sauces before, but thus far, they had all turned out thinner than would be necessary for a bisque.

Her solution was simple enough- unsweetened almond creamer! DUH! Why hadn’t I thought of that? Well, I can tell you why: I live in a rural area and my local grocery stores don’t stock unsweetened almond creamer, thus it wasn’t even on my radar as an ingredient option. I’m happy that my stores carry non-dairy options, but basically the choice is vanilla creamer made from either coconut, soy, or almond milk. Needless to say, sweetened  vanilla is not generally a flavor you wish to add to your savory dishes. For my first go at this recipe, I had to use regular unsweetened almond milk and while that was good, it didn’t have the rich, creamy quality I wanted. This go around, I was able to get my hands on some Califia Farms brand unsweetened almond cream and the result was taste-tacular!

Of course, me being me, I used Sophia’s recipe as a guideline and made my own version with garlic, a few additional spices, beans, and potatoes. I love garlic and use it in pretty much everything, but you can obviously lessen the quantity or leave it out altogether if you prefer. I wanted this soup to be more nutrient packed, so I added beans. I used peruano beans, a small, white bean which are buttery and creamy on their own accord. I get them online, so I realize that they may not be readily available. Any white bean will work, such Cannellini or Navy (also called pea) beans. I added potatoes to help with the creamy consistency I wanted to achieve. Yukon Gold work best for this, but I had red potatoes on hand today so that’s what I used.  Onion is great, but shallots are absolutely amazing in this recipe as they add to the overall  buttery flavor. Also, you may notice in the picture that I have a bit more than three celery stalks. Well, it was starting to turn rubbery so I just used it all!

As with anything you make from scratch, this will take you some time to prepare. I think it took me about 20 minutes just to peel and chop up my veggies, so allow yourself at least an hour to prepare this dish. It is certainly worth it; unless you happen to be feeding a multitude of people, this recipe makes a substantial amount and you’ll have soup for a few days. Which is fun because then you can try serving it in various ways. I’ve served it with homemade croutons, crackers, or biscuits on day one.  For day two, I like to serve the bisque over rice. I’ve not tried it, but I’m sure it would do just fine with the right pasta (I’m thinking fusilli or similar); you could add some nutritional yeast to give it a “cheesey” flavor.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Happy cooking!

Butternut Squash Bisque 

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled & cubed
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 cup cooked peruano beans
  • ½ teaspoon crushed rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon rubbed sage
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ¾ cups veggie stock
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond creamer or almond milk

Before you begin, make sure all of your ingredients are prepared (veggies chopped, spices measured out, etc), this will allow you to cook more mindfully without feeling rushed.

In 5 quart pot, sauté the onion and celery in oil over medium-high heat. I used coconut oil for it’s buttery quality, but any cooking oil will do.  After about 4 minutes, add the herbs and half of your garlic, continue stirring until onions are translucent. Then add the salt and pepper and continue to cook another 2 minutes.

Pour in veggie stock and add squash and potatoes. The stock should just cover the veggies, add more if necessary. Cover and simmer on low or medium-low, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until squash and potatoes are melty tender.

Remove cover, add beans and other half of garlic. Stir and allow to come back to an active simmer.

Time to blend the contents into a rich soup! If you are using an immersion blender, turn off the heat and carefully emulsify the entire contents of the pot.

If you will be using a blender,  carefully ladle about 1/3 of the soup mixture into the blender container (container should be no more than halfway full), remove your blender lid’s center insert, hold a folded kitchen towel over the top, and then blend. Removing the center lid stopper allows the steam to escape, covering the hole with a thickly folded kitchen towel keeps the soup from splattering, and the whole process prevents a scalding soup explosion in your kitchen.

If you are going to use a food processor (without a lid insert to remove), remove the pot from the heat and let cool to an edible temperature. Ladle soup into bowl of food processor and blend until smooth. You will likely still have to split the contents of the pot to fit all of the squash, veggies, and liquid in. Once smooth, pour into a large bowl or container.

Once all of the squash is blended, return all of the puree to the pot and turn the heat to medium. Pour in the almond cream and blend well with a whisk. Heat through and serve.

Yield: About 9 cups of soup (it over-filled my 8-cup mixing bowl)

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Ready to get chopping!
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Deliciously colorful.
img_0294
Onions and celery after the first 4 minutes of sautéing.

 

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Onions and celery with herbs and garlic mixed in.
img_0298
Squash, potatoes, and broth are added. As you can see, I am a little short on broth; I added just enough so the broth covered the squash. I updated the recipe to reflect an extra ½ cup of broth. You may end up needing a bit more or less.
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Pot is removed from the heat and I’m about to get my blend on!
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Beautifully blended! If you lack unsweetened almond creamer, you could eat this as is, it would just be less creamy.
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Whisking in the rich almond cream.
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Bon appétit!
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