Jeannie Serpa's Butternut Squash Bisque

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 Vidalia or other sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 medium-size stalks celery, chopped
4 medium-size carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
Sea salt and freshly ground black
pepper, to taste
2 medium-size butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 quart chicken broth
Extra chicken broth, if needed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup light cream or fat free half-and-half (see note on previous page)
Wedge of unpeeled apple for color
Sprig of fresh thyme for garnish

It’s recommended to make this one or two days in advance. Store in the refrigerator.

In a large, heavy soup pot, warm olive oil over medium heat and cook onions until soft. Add garlic, celery and carrots, and continue cooking for another 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Add the squash, broth, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is soft (about 25 minutes). At this point, remove bay leaf. Taste test and adjust seasonings.

For a slightly textured soup, mash with a potato masher. For a satiny smooth bisque, strain the soup and puree just the vegetables with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Gradually add the liquid until the desired consistency is reached. If still too thick, add a bit of the extra chicken broth. Add the cream as directed above.

Ladle into warm soup bowls, garnish with a wedge of unpeeled apple and finish off with a sprig of fresh thyme.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.


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