Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Autumn Bisque


There are many sorts of vegetables:

the sexy ones, such as artichokes, mesclun, asparagus...

the exotic, like bok choy, Napa Cabbage, chayote...

colorful characters like peppers, tomatoes, radishes, zucchini.

And then there are the lowly root vegetables, peasants really. Stuck in the ground, bland looking, reviled by children everywhere. But, I have a marvelous way to transform these poor, under-appreciated guys into a glamorous dish.

A bisque is a creamy soup made of pureed ingredients, such as seafood or vegetables.  This recipe came to me from my friend, Carol, who served it to me years ago and I've been hooked ever since. Making this soup in the fall is an annual tradition now.

This is luscious, velvety and elegant--serve it to company as a starter or as a main dish. Or, freeze it in single servings and have some whenever you like this fall. It is absolutely delicious with a crust of bread & butter.

Notes: The smaller you slice and chop the vegetables, the less time it takes to cook.
This is the perfect time to use your immersion blender.
Make the bisque the night before and let sit overnight in the fridge; this really melds the flavors.
I know I don't even have to tell you what a healthful dish this is. :-)

Autumn Bisque
Serves about 4 as a main course; 8 as a starter

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup onion, minced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 pound parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
1 rutabaga, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
2 small apples, peeled and sliced
3 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
5 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried
1 1/2 cups milk (you can use cream for a richer bisque, but I prefer milk)
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
cream or olive oil, cracked pepper for garnish

In a large soup pot, melt butter; add onion and mushrooms. Saute over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add remaining vegetables, apples and broth; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until vegetables are very soft. Let cool slightly.

Remove thyme sprigs (if using) and puree until smooth. An immersion blender works great here. You also can let the soup cool a bit more, transfer to a food processor or blender and puree.

Return soup to the pot and add milk, cider and nutmeg. Reheat and season to taste. If bisque is too thick, taste and thin with additional apple cider and/or broth, whichever you think it needs.

To gussy up your dish of soup, swirl in a little cream (pretty!) or add a drizzle of olive oil and cracked pepper.

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