I know it’s still hot in many parts of the country, but here in northeast Ohio autumn has arrived. Temps have been in the low-to-mid 60s during the day (that’s the mid-to-upper teens for you Celsius folks), and it’s been downright chilly at night. The leaves are beginning to turn, and the last two days have brought us drab, rainy days.
Yes, it is soup weather.
We made what we call a “squash run” last week – basically, we drove out the farm where we got Pete the Goat and picked up $20 worth of winter squashes. Since they charge by the squash, not by weight – a helluva deal, really – that’s a lot of squash. Two boxes worth, in fact.
Among this treasure trove were 3 baby blue hubbard squashes. Blue hubbard squashes can grow to be quite large – upwards of 20 pounds – but our baby squashes run about 5 pounds each, which is still pretty big, compared to all the butternut, spaghetti, acorn, sweet dumpling and delicatas that are part of our current squash collection. They have a thick, inedible, greyish-blue outer skin, a brilliant orange, fine-textured flesh and are marvelous for soups.
Combined with a mirepoix of vegetables, homemade chicken stock, coconut milk and crab meat, is makes a seafood bisque that even The Young One will eagerly devour. Frankly, I know of no higher praise for any dish, much less a soup.
You don’t have to use a hubbard, of course – butternut would work well, as would a pumpkin, though you should keep in mind that pumpkins are not as fine-textured as hubbard or butternut squashes. Once I’d cleaned and roasted the hubbard, I got about 4 or 5 cups of the flesh for the soup, so if you use a smaller squash you might want to roast 2, or adjust the remaining ingredients accordingly for a smaller batch of bisque. And if you don’t eat shellfish, this would be equally good with some leftover chicken or turkey.
Fairly low in calories, the bisque is as an excellent source of potassium and vitamin A, as well as a pretty good source of magnesium. Oh, and the servings are huge.
- 1 small blue hubbard squash, about 4 or 5 pounds
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 2 large celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
- 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 pound crab meat, picked over
- Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Split the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and stringy material in the center. Pour enough water to cover the bottom into a shallow baking dish large enough to hold both halves of the squash. Place the squash, cut sides down, into the baking dish. Roast until the squash is tender and easily pierced with the tines of a fork, about 45 minutes.
- While the squash is roasting, melt the ghee in a large, enameled Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the onion and celery until the onion is tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and chicken stock; reduce the heat slightly. Cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Once the squash is roasted, allow it to cool slightly and scoop out the flesh into the Dutch oven with the chicken stock and vegetables. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth and return to the pot. Or leave the soup in the Dutch oven and, using a stick blender, puree until smooth.
- Stir the coconut milk and crab into the soup and return to a medium-low heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper; garnish with red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve.
- Nutrition (per serving): 363 calories, 15.9g total fat, 88.3mg cholesterol, 578.7mg sodium, 1403.5mg potassium, 36.1g carbohydrates, 1.3g fiber, 4.9g sugar, 24.6g protein