This is my most popular soup recipe – Maple Butternut Squash Bisque. It’s the perfect fall soup combining butternut squash with maple syrup and a touch of cayenne pepper! Garnish the soup with toasted pecans.
This recipe makes a larger amount – perfect for a larger gathering like Thanksgiving. If you would like a smaller amount, simply divide the recipe in half. If you want to freeze the soup, I recommend using half and half instead of milk. Milk has a high content of water in it. When a soup made with milk is frozen, it often will look a bit “curdled” when thawed. That’s because of the ice crystals that form during the freezing process. By using half and half or cream, you will avoid this problem.
- 6 to 7 pounds of winter squash, such as butternut, buttercup or acorn
- (The weight is based on the whole squash prior to cooking)
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 cups milk (1 percent or whole preferred))
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 1 /2 cups heavy cream or half and half
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup maple syrup (depending on how sweet you would like the soup)
- salt and white pepper to taste
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- toasted pecans for garnish
The recipe below illustrates making this soup with butternut squash. Look for butternut squash with long necks – that’s where more squash “meat” is. The base has the seeds. Butternut squash will also provide you with much more useable product than buttercup or acorn squash.
You can also use buttercup (which resembles an acorn squash but has much oranger “meat” than acorn squash.) Acorn squash is the lightest colored “meat” and will give you a less vibrant colored soup.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with 2 inch sides with foil. When selecting a butternut squash, look for ones with long necks.
The squash “meat” is in the necks. The bottom round part of the squash is mainly seeds. You will need approximately 3 to 4 nice sized squash for this recipe.
Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon.
Bake squash until a paring knife easily goes through the flesh. This usually takes about 1 hour depending on the size of the squash (larger squash will take a bit longer).
When done, remove pan from oven and let squash cool for 30 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop
out the meat from each squash and place in a large bowl. Set aside while sauteing the onion and preparing the “roux” for the soup.
Melt the butter in a large soup pot. When melted, add the chopped onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the flour and stir constantly for several minutes to cook the flour. This is the soup’s “roux” or thickening agent.
Add the stock, milk, cream/half and half, maple syrup, salt, pepper and pinch of cayenne pepper. Add the cooked squash. Simmer on low until the squash is very soft and the soup begins to thicken – about 1 hour. Stir off and on to make sure heat it not too high and bottom is burning. The soup must be on a low simmer.
When squash is very soft and soup is thickened, remove from heat. You now need to puree the soup. This can be done by one of two methods: (1) in a food processor or (2) directly in the pot with a heavy duty immersion blender. Immersion blenders are small blenders that go directly in the liquid. Some are battery operated and some are plugged into an electrical outlet. Braun, Kitchenaid and Cuisinart all make nice immersion blenders.
At the right, I am showing you how to puree the soup in a food processor. This must be done in batches. Do not put too much of the soup in at a time or it will overflow.
The food processor method will make a slightly smoother soup. The immersion blender is quicker and neater since you don’t have to puree the soup in batches.
Taste soup for seasoning. If needed, add more salt and pepper. Depending on the quality of maple syrup, you may need to add a touch more to taste. If the soup seems too thick, simply add a little more milk or stock.
Ladle the soup into soup bowls and decorate with toasted chopped pecans. To toast the pecans, place chopped pecans on a baking sheet and toast in a 325 degree oven for about 5 to 6 minutes to until fragrant and lightly toasted. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.