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Butternut squash bisque is a type of soup that is usually creamy and thick. Although the word "bisque" traditionally refers to a soup made with seafood, butternut squash bisque is generally vegetarian, though it can be made with chicken or fish stock instead. The soup is typically pureed, which gives it a smooth texture. A bisque can be seasoned to a cook's liking, with spices such as nutmeg or a selection of herbs.
To prepare butternut squash bisque, a whole squash is typically peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes. It is added to a saucepan with a selection of aromatics or a mirepoix, which is traditionally a mixture of finely chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Some cooks choose to omit the carrots or celery or to use other vegetables, such as fennel. Other ingredients, such as garlic or spices, can also be added to a mirepoix.
The butternut squash needs to soften and cook before the soup is ready. Stock or water is usually added to the vegetable mixture. For a vegetarian bisque, vegetable stock or plain water should be used. Cooks wishing to prepare a more traditional bisque will use a fish or seafood stock. Another option is to use chicken stock.
Simmering the vegetables in the stock cooks them and releases their flavor into the soup. As the squash cooks, the flavors from the aromatics, spices, and stock blends together. A cook can change the flavor profile of butternut squash bisque significantly by altering the spices used. For example, adding chili powder or cayenne pepper will give the soup a Southwestern flavor instead of the usual sweet and spicy flavor from cinnamon or nutmeg.
Butternut squash bisque is pureed, which gives it a creamy and smooth texture instead of a chunky texture. A cook may use an immersion blender to puree the soup directly in the pot. Another option is to pour the soup into a jar blender and puree it in batches. Cooling soup slightly prevents burns and splatters when pureeing.
A traditional method for pureeing a bisque is to strain the soup through a chinois, or a mesh strainer. The vegetable pieces are pushed through the fine wire mesh, which breaks them up and provides a smooth texture. Some cooks add cream or creme fraiche to the soup before pureeing or straining it, others prefer to wait until just before serving the soup to stir in the cream. After pureeing, the soup can also be frozen for later consumption.
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