There is something so perfect, so satisfying about a bowl of warm squash bisque on a cool fall evening.
And it is such a versatile dish, it is easily doctored in so many ways.
Using that blend of versatility and comfort as our inspiration, we created a fast and easy squash bisque that becomes a base for whatever autumn flavors you are craving.
You could, of course, keep it basic and simply top this bisque with a dollop of sour cream. But we also suggest six variations of toppings, including shrimp, bacon and pulled pork.
You also could make the bisque vegan by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth and almond or soy creamer for the heavy cream.
Caramelized Onion and Squash Bisque
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large sweet onions, diced
2 medium shallots, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 and a half pounds cubed, peeled butternut squash
3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
Ground black pepper
In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the vegetable oil. Add onions, shallots, salt and herbs, then saute for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, continue to cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and brown, about another 20 minutes.
Add vinegar and deglaze the pan. Add squash and 3 cups of the broth, then bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until squash is completely tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Alternatively, puree soup in the pot using an immersion blender. Either way, take care when blending hot liquids.
Return bisque to heat and stir in cream. If a thinner bisque is desired, thin soup with remaining cup of broth. Heat until just hot. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, finish with any of the following:
Spiced shrimp and scallions: Toss 12 ounces of small cooked shrimp with 1 teaspoon five-spice powder. Top with sliced scallions.
Asiago and apple: Stir 2 finely diced apples into bisque, then bring back to a simmer. Top with shredded Asiago cheese.
Barbecue pulled pork: Stir together 2 cups of shredded/pulled cooked pork with one-third cup barbecue sauce. Top soup first with pork, then a dollop of sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro.
Two corn and herbs: Cook 1 cup of thawed frozen corn kernels on high in a skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil until lightly browned. Stir kernels into bisque along with 2 tablespoons each of chopped fresh tarragon, thyme and chives. Top with salted, buttered popcorn.
Peppered jack: Stir in 1 diced red bell pepper and a quarter cup diced pickled jalapenos. Top with shredded pepper jack cheese.
Maple bacon blue: Stir in a half cup crumbled crisped bacon and a quarter cup maple syrup. Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese.