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Butternut Squash Bisque with Mustard-Dill Croutons

Friday, February 27th, 2015

This hearty soup is based on a recipe I developed more than 2 years ago. It seems that wintery nights, put me in a “soup mood” and while looking through some of the recipes I have created, I found my original version of this bisque from September 2012. While reading through the ingredients and directions from that recipe, my “kitchen scientist” side kicked in, and I was inspired to revise the ingredients to make the bisque a bit more savory, and less sweet. To add a contrasting bit of “crunch” to the creaminess of the bisque, I topped each serving with freshly made seasoned croutons and raw pumpkin seeds for a delicious…and “tummy-warming” meal.

Butternut Squash Bisque with Mustard-Dill Croutons

The ingredients listed allow you to choose to make the bisque vegan, if desired, but either way, the bisque itself is gluten free.  The croutons can also be made from a loaf of gluten free bread, thickly sliced and cut into cubes
1 – 1.5 pound butternut squash, roasted
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon dried, crushed rosemary
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 cup water
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon white pepper
pinch of ground red pepper (less than 1/8 tsp), optional
2 Tablespoons Tahini paste
3 Tablespoons peanut butter
additional salt to taste
Mustard-Dill Croutons and pumpkin seeds for garnish, if desired
To roast, wash and dry the butternut squash then cut it in half, lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds and pulp and brush the inside of the squash with a mixture of 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon dried, crushed rosemary, ¼ teaspoon each fine sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Place the squash outer-skin side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 400 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the inner flesh of the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.  Let the squash cool to touch. After squash has cooled, use a spoon to scrape the roasted, inner flesh of squash from the outer peel.
Peel, wash and finely chop the shallot.  Heat the butter or olive oil in a 2 quart (or larger) Dutch oven. Add the chopped shallot and sauté until soft.
To make the bisque, mix the roasted squash with the sautéed shallots, and then stir in the cumin seeds, white pepper and red pepper, if desired. Gently pour in the vegetable broth and the water, and cook uncovered to bring the squash mixture to a gentle boil.  After the mixture comes to a boil, cover the pan and allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 15 minutes, or until the squash is quite soft and easily mashed with a wooden spoon.  Remove the pan from heat, and puree the squash mixture in small batches in a covered blender, until the mixture is smooth.
Return the pureed mixture to the saucepan and stir in the Tahini paste and peanut butter.   Taste the bisque to determine if additional salt is needed, and if so, add the salt in 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon increments to achieve the desired flavor.
I always think soup is better when the flavors are allowed to “blend” for a day before eating…so if you choose to wait, remove the bisque from heat and allow it to cool uncovered, at room temperature, then refrigerate in a covered container.  When ready to serve, reheat the bisque in a 2-quart saucepan, adding milk 1 tablespoon at a time to thin the bisque to desired consistency.  Heat the bisque just until it bubbles, stirring frequently.  Serve immediately, with Mustard-Dill Croutons and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, if desired.
Mustard-Dill Croutons

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
6 ounces bread, cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch cubes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper.
Blend the melted butter, olive oil, honey mustard and dill weed in a large bowl. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the butter/olive oil mixture.
Put the coated bread cubes on the covered baking sheet, arranging in a single layer. Bake the seasoned bread cubes for 10 minutes and then remove the baking sheet from the oven to turn the cubes to allow the cubes to bake on all sides.  Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake an additional 8 – 10 minutes.  Serve warm.
Note:  Store any remaining seasoned croutons in an airtight container. To regain “crispness”, place croutons in warm oven for approximately 10 minutes before using.

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