This is one of our favorite soups we prepare here at the restaurant during the fall. But more important, it will be one of the featured courses that my staff and I will be preparing in New York on Nov. 10.
There has been a lot of buzz in town about the invitation that has been extended to us from the James Beard Foundation to prepare a seven-course meal for its members. Obviously, we are absolutely giddy about the invite. In our research, which was not easy and certainly can be flawed, our staff and Karen and I are the first independently owned restaurant from Northern Nevada to receive such an invitation. We are not only proud of the honor, but are proud of all the hard work that our staff has supplied over the years to achieve such a distinction.
We all pledge to make Carson City proud.
In this recipe, which will be the second course, we'll be featuring butternut squash grown by our friends in Dayton at Smith and Smith Farms. We will also be featuring their heirloom pumpkins for a relish that will be served with the Smoked Duck Confit during the hors d'oeuvres course.
The butternut squash bisque has an elegant and creamy texture that makes it an incredible dinner party favorite. The consistency of a true bisque is not overly thick but silky in texture. This is not a cream of butternut squash soup.
There is some equipment that will be needed to make this soup. I find a hand blender (wand- style) is easier to use. You can use a standard blender. but as a word of warning: Do not fill the container more than 50 percent, and pulse by turning on and off quickly. The soup has a tendency (actually any hot item put in the blender) to explode out of the blender. BE VERY CAREFUL.
The consistency is very creamy and buttery, so blend until you reach this stage. Also, you probably have noticed that there is no flour or roux added to the soup. The celery root supplies the thickening and texture, along with the carrots and cream.
The wine we are pairing this soup with in New York is Caymus Conundrum Meritage 2004, Napa Valley. This white meritage has a blend of sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscat.
It is a wine that is gently layered with tropical overtones with a very floral bouquet. It is a perfect match with the soup. I'm sure you can get this wine through our friends at Aloha Liquor and Wine or Ben's Liquor.
For more information on the James Beard dinner or about the James Beard Foundation itself, visit our Web site (www.adelescarsoncity.com), click on events, and then click on the link to the James Beard Foundation Web site.
As always enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
Butternut Squash Bisque
2 butternut squash approximately 2.5 to 3 pounds each
1/4 cup brown sugar
fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sweet yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup celery root, diced
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup dry or cocktail sherry wine
2 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
kosher salt to taste
The first step in preparing this soup is to bake the squash to a soft texture.
Split the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Wash thoroughly; place in a baking pan flesh side down after rubbing the halves with some brown sugar and fresh ground pepper. No salt at this time please.
Place approximately half a cup of water in the pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for at least an hour and a half. Check for doneness.
The flesh must be soft enough to scoop out of the skin. If it is not done enough bake longer.
Don't panic; each oven and squash is different and the baking can take as long as two and a half hours.
You can bake the squash the day before preparing the soup. After you finish baking, let the squash set and cool (about an hour) enough so that you can handle them easily without burning yourself. Scoop the meat and set aside.
To make the soup, place butter in a 10-quart soup pot along with onion, carrot, celery and celery root. Lightly saute over medium-high heat. Do not scorch.
Pour in the maple syrup, heavy cream, orange juice and wine. Bring to a boil and add the squash. Simmer for one hour on low heat at a lightly rolling boil. Turn off heat and let set for 20 minutes.
Add the white pepper and nutmeg. Place a hand blender in the pot and blend thoroughly. This will take a minimum of 10 minutes.
At the end of the process, stir with a spoon to make sure everything has been blended together. Taste and let your own taste buds guide you as to whether you need to add more maple syrup, white pepper or nutmeg. You may or may not need salt.
This soup is delicious topped with a dollop of yogurt that has been whisked with a touch of maple syrup and roasted pecans.
n Charlie Abowd is the owner and chef at Adele's. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Carson City since 1980. Charlie is a fourth-generation restaurateur.