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Tropical Butternut Bisque

On a snowy day, this soup reflects my locavore’s craving for the Caribbean — coconut with a touch of fiery ginger and cayenne pepper party with butternut’s sweet silky texture. The Berkshires produces fabulous butternut squash, and happily the local stuff is still around. Roasting it whole makes it effortless to peel. Use local onions and milk if you can. Makes 4-6 servings

1 3-pound butternut squash
1 medium onion, diced
1-1/2 tablespoons coarsely grated ginger
1 tablespoon butter
About 3 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock or water
A pinch of allspice
Salt to taste
About 1 cup coconut milk
Cayenne pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Roast whole uncut squash on a baking sheet until it can be pierced easily with a fork, about l hour.

2. While the squash is cooking, in a skillet, cook onion and ginger in the butter, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender but not brown.

3. When the butternut is cooked, slice in it half lengthwise, then spoon out the fibrous pulp and discard, reserving the seeds, if you wish to toast them later. Discard the skin. Puree the orange flesh in the food processor until smooth, then add to a medium soup pot.

4. For the garnish, remove about 1/3 cup of the puree to glass measuring cup or microwave proof bowl. Mix it with 1/2 cup stock or water, a generous pinch of allspice, and salt to taste, if needed. Reserve.

5. Puree onion mixture in the processor with a some of the milk, as needed, to make it very smooth. Add to the squash with 3/4 cup of the coconut milk and as much of the milk as needed to reach the consistency of a thick bisque. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. (It should have a little kick.) Simmer, but do not boil, for about 10 minutes to marry the flavors.

6. To serve, heat butternut-allspice mixture in the microwave. Ladle the butternut squash into warm bowls. Drizzle the butternut-allspice mixture and then about 1 teaspoon coconut milk over each bowl.

Variations: For a lighter and brighter soup, substitute half the milk with stock and eliminate the coconut milk.

Note: If you want to keep the seeds, they’re tasty toasted. Remove the seeds from the fun slimy stuff. Rinse and dry. Toast in a tiny bit of oil in a skillet, over medium heat, shaking frequently, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Salt to taste.

News Year’s Eve? Why not bring local hard or soft cider, a six pack of Johnny Mash and locally distilled beer or booze to the party? And don’t forget local milk in your eggnog!

6 comments to Tropical Butternut Bisque

  • Eireann

    Thanks, I plan to try it this weekend!

    About the squash seeds, I kept making them the typically recommended way but they always turned out awful to my taste. Last week when I roasted pumpkin seeds, I tried something new: I soaked them in water (with some salt added, too) overnight, then laid them on a towel for a while to dry. Then I greased the bottom of the baking dish with a bit of butter, and roasted for approximately an hour (yes, an hour) on 225F. The slow and low roasting method after soaking really made a difference for me!

  • Amy Cotler

    Interesting. I’m not sure what soaking them makes sense as you have to roast off the water to make them crisp, but it certainly gets rid of the slimy fun stuff. Sound delicious! THanks for much for your comment….

  • I don’t think I would be able to do that. But after reading this writing here makes me feel a bit like I should do it.

  • Amy Cotler

    Thanks! Where are you?

  • Wow You did a really good job on this thing.

  • Amy Cotler

    Assume you mean the story, right? I’d love to spend months listening to all the old folks about what eating local use to be like — the good,bad, hard and delicious…..Thanks!