Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Roasted Delicata Bisque with Cashew Cream
A couple weeks ago, Milla asked if I had a favorite soup recipe I could post. The answer is yes but I can't really decide on just one. Soup is my favorite type of food and just as I have a number of favorite dresses suited for different moods and seasons I have many favorite soups. I love noodles, wontons or matzo balls in a savory light broth. I also love a spicy stew with lots of beans and veggies served over rice or quinoa. Then sometimes I crave a warm bowl of corn and roasted poblano chowder and nothing else will do. So I will share a few favorites over the weeks to come, some recipes that I turn to regularly ranging from stews, to chowders to broth-y deliciousness.
First up is this seasonally appropriate Delicata Bisque with Cashew Cream. It comes together with just a few ingredients and is open to interpretation. If you don't like cashews you can substitute a can of coconut milk for a sweeter yet equally delicious soup.
If you have a different kind of winter squash hanging around your kitchen go ahead and use that, although delicatas are ideal if you got 'em. They are excellent sources of vitamin A (good for your eyes, immune system and reproductive health) and are good sources of Vitamin C (also beneficial to your immune system, helps protect cells from free radicals and helps your body absorb iron from plant-based foods). Cashews are rich in copper which helps eliminate free radicals and contributes to healthy skin and hair. Cashews "nuts" (they are technically a seed) are also very rich in magnesium which contributes to healthy bones. And they contain proanthocyanidins which starve tumors and stop cancer cells from dividing! Plus, it's a bisque which is just fun to say and sounds swanky.
2 good sized Delicata squash (3 lbs)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 or 5 cups excellent vegetable broth
1 cup raw unsalted cashews
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Black pepper and salt to taste
Note: If you have some wimpy blender that you ground scored after your neighbors moved out be sure to soak the cashews for several hours or overnight before attempting to puree. This will help the cashews achieve divine creaminess instead of chewy sand status.
If substituting with coconut milk, reduce the amount of broth by about a cup.
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Trim off the tops of the squash and scoop out the seeds and pulp (don't forget to save the seeds for roasting later). Oil the cut sides of the squash and place face down on a baking sheet. Roast until the squash is fork tender and the edges are slightly caramelized.
While you wait for the squash to roast, prepare the cashew cream. If you soaked the cashews, drain off the excess water then blend with 1 cup of the broth. Really let your blender work for a few minutes until it's totally creamy. Spoon out about 1/2 cup of the cashew cream and set aside for garnish.
After the squash is roasted, allow to cool until you can handle it comfortably. Remove the skin, and heat the squash, remaining broth, and thyme in a soup pot until it boils. If you want a thicker soup, don't add the full amount of broth. I put a range since finding two squash that weigh precisely three pounds isn't always in the cards. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 20 to 30 minutes.
Let the soup cool a bit, then add (in batches if necessary) to the cashew cream in the blender. Puree until smooth. Transfer the cashew/squash mixture back to the pot and heat. Add black pepper and salt if needed. Depending on the saltiness of your veggie broth, you might not need to add any salt (I didn't at least).
Serve in bowls with fancy dollops of the reserved cashew cream and freshly cracked black pepper.