Monday, October 22, 2012

Gingered Squash Bisque with Sage Croutons...for weekend snuggles



Bring on soup season!  I love soups.  If we don't have a soup made on the weekends, I fill up a few containers of soup from Whole Foods regularly.  Soup and sandwiches.  Soup with chunks of bread and butter.  Soup with crackers and a good cheese and a glass of ruby red wine.

Butternut Squash is one of those wonderful fall soups that mark the change of season.  We love to pick up those adorable acorn squash as well.  We cut them in half, fit them snuggly in a bowl, fill them with butter, salt, and maple syrup and microwave them until tender.  Delicious.





This soup is timely because we are expecting a nice cool spell down here in the south.  The breezes are already big and gusty, the skies bright blue, and acorns and pecans are plopping everywhere on the ground.

And the humidity.  Hallelujah, the humidity is giving us some relief as it finally dissipates so we can enjoy opening windows and talking long cool walks.




We've been getting out and about in Houston lately, tasting more of what this city has to offer.  Endless restaurants boggle the mind when it comes to choosing ones to try out.

We've joined a group called the "Houston Chowhounds".  They are a diverse group of food and restaurant lovers.  They had what was called a "Dumpling Crawl" this past weekend.





Who doesn't love dumplings?  We decided to join in on the fun.  We sampled pan fried, steamed, and boiled dumplings from two different restaurants in Chinatown.  Some were filled with leeks and pork, some cabbage and pork, and others with shrimp and pork.

Did you know Houston has a huge Chinatown?  I do find the one here rather amusing.  It really isn't anything like Chinatown in San Fransisco, Tokyo, or Toronto.  This one occupies about a 1/2 mile strip of storefronts in a very suburban looking set up.  




Everything one might miss from Asia I believe could be found in the long lineup of strip-mall style shopping.  It was a fun gathering, we filled our bellies until we waddled on home feeling like  big dumplings ourselves. 

One little surprise that made me chuckle more was a french-style bakery that was positioned right in the middle of the line-up of Asian shops and eateries.

We couldn't resist poking around in there and lo and behold, we came away with crinkly little packets of tiny macarons. What a surprise!  How often do you go to Chinatown in a city in the deep south and then stumble upon french macarons!






Gingered Squash Bisque with Sage Croutons.  I've been making the soup seasonally since we lived way up in Michigan when I came across the recipe.  

I love the underlying flavor of leeks in this soup partnered with the butternut squash.  The soup is creamy and so fitting for cool crisp week nights when a warm bowl of soups makes everything better.





I cut up ample sized croutons from a loaf of heavy wheat bread.  Melted butter in a sauce pan sprinkled with rubbed sage soaks into the croutons and they form crispy squares of crunchiness to drop on top of the soup.

Usually I just start sauteeing the leeks and crisping the sage croutons and comments come in from various corners of the house, "What is that delicious smell?"..."Are we having that soup you make this time each year?"




Soups and cookies.  Cookies and Soups.  They seem to take turns getting stirred and baked in our kitchen.   Speaking of cookies, there is a fabulous program that has been put together in the food blog community.

The popular blogs "Love and Olive Oil" and "The Little Kitchen" have put together a way to help children fight cancer called "The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap".  

Cookies will be flying all over the country in a huge swap of over 400 food bloggers who will be baking cookies, swapping, them and donating money for a very worthy cause.

I think it is going to be a great event and a whole lotta fun!




The Texan skies seem to get bigger and bigger down here at this time of year.  Brilliant sunrises and sunsets streak lovely rays clear across the sky.  

Some weekend trips are coming up and I am putting together my lists of ideas for Christmas dinner.  So soon?  Yes, because my list will probably change multiple times throughout November.

Have a wonderful cool crisp fall full of warming soups, cinnamon donuts, and hot cups of apple cider!







Gingered Squash Bisque with Sage Croutons
(recipe from Bon Appétit, October 1994)

5  cups canned vegetable broth
2 russet potatoes, peeled, finely chopped 
2 12 oz. packages frozen cooked orange-fleshed (winter) squash or one large butternut squash fresh, cut up into cubes
3 teaspoons ground ginger
5 Tablespoons butter
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts) finely chopped
2 cups half and half
4 slices thick whole wheat bread, cubed
3 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
2 tablespoons butter

Combine vegetable broth, potatoes, squash, and ginger in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cover and cook until potatoes are tender and squash is thawed/tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Transfer to food processor or use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

While the vegetables are cooking, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet.  Sprinkle the butter with the rubbed sage.  Add the squares of whole wheat bread.  Sauté bread until butter is absorbed and bread becomes a crispy crouton.  You can also spread them out on a baking pan and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes in the oven until nice and crispy.

Next, melt butter in another large saucepan over low heat.  Add leeks:  cover pan.  Cook until tender, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. 

Add vegetable puree and half and half to leek and simmer 2 minutes, thinning soup to desired consistency.  Use immersion blender if you don't want any leeks or leave them un pureed in the soup.  Heat soup through, add salt and pepper to taste and ladle into soup bowls and add rubbed sage croutons on top.


34 comments:

  1. This soup looks amazing! Your photos are beautiful and really capture the feeling of Fall. I love the idea of ginger and sage together and the texture of creamy soup and crunchy crouton. I am participating in the cookie swap, too, and looking forward to it!

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    1. I laugh when I think of all those cookies that will be passing from one blogger to another. Something about it just makes my heart all warm!

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  2. Delicious photos!
    Wonderful squash bisque!

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  3. Just hearing about the croutons makes me hungry for lunch! This soup looks fantastic and perfect for fall. Gorgeous photos too! I love the birds on the line shots. Have you ever thought about selling prints on Etsy? Just a thought!

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    1. Connie, I do sell all of my photography on my portfolio site (through SmugMug). But...I am thinking of trying an Etsy site because it gets so much more visibility. My daughter had success selling her jewelry through Etsy...and I love shopping on Etsy. I have to figure out how to get the photos printed (Smugmug has it automatically set up).

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  4. What an incredible seasonal soup. I just love it and those sage crouton are just the thing to take it up several notches. On my must make list for sure :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

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  5. Your soup looks so warm and comforting, and what's better than soup and croutons? The "dumpling crawl" sounds so fun too!

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    1. Oh, the dumpling crawl was fun. What a wonderful excuse to stuff our faces full of dumplings!! Still full thinking about last weekend!

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  6. Halloween is around the corner and so are the pumpkin dishes. Such a warm comforting soup for the autumn. I love anything with sage and croutons with it. Don't even ask me?! :-)

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    1. I cringed a bit when I put this post up because it seems like every blogger on the planet is making butternut squash soup, chowder, bisque or something similar right now! We're definitely all captivated with this fall vegetable!

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  7. Ah, finally fall (I hear you!). I've been so delighted to welcome cooler temperatures and drier air. This soup looks like a lovely way to celebrate -- I love the addition of ginger and buttered croutons. And thanks for the info on the Cookie Swap -- going to check out the links now. Hope your week is off to a crisp start, Sarah!

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    1. My scarves, mitts, and hats are all calling me! Now if it would just get a teeny bit cooler!

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  8. The soup looks really inviting - and I am not a big soup lover. The comment about the macarons made me smile A strange place to find them, indeed.

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    1. ...and I must admit...they were a bit strange tasting as well. :)

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  9. Ahh Sarah, what a beautiful and transporting post! I could feel the breeze and smell your cooking! What a delightful ode to fall!

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  10. I have lived in NZ 12 years but as Halloween approaches I still think autumnal food even if we are in spring. I will still make my lantern, toffee apples and some pumpkin soup. You little cats is the same colour as our girl cat Millie.

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    1. I try to imagine what it must be like to have the seasons reversed...especially if you grew up with them different. I just can't quite imagine Xmas in July!!

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  11. Please send that cool front here to SC as well! Has been high 70s!
    I am looking forward to having soups more often...and chili...and bread...:) I will try the butternut squash soup of yours with leeks. Have not added that before.

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    1. ooooh, speaking of Chili...I think that is on the docket for this weekend! With cornbread...the 2 just have to go hand in hand.

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  12. Sigh. When I grow up, I want to take photos like you. :)

    And I'll take a bowl of that.... yum.

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    1. Oh, Betsy, you are so sweet. And...I could just say the name Betsy all day...I love that name. One thing is for sure...I will NEVER be able to draw like you! You are very talented.

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  13. Beautiful photos, especially the birds series. Just bought a butternut so I may be making this for the weekend, it's finally cooled down, for the moment. Croutons sound incredible. I look forward to the amazing blue skies here in S. Cal. come Dec./Jan.! Thanks too for the acorn/microwave idea! :)

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    1. You know, that acorn squash (in the micro) is so quick and easy...and so so so delicious! You'll be hooked if you try it. It really makes a nice veggie side dish even when entertaining.

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  14. I have some dear friends who are part of Houston Chowhounds. I hope you enjoyed your exploration of Chinatown. If you need any recommendations, please let me know. Also, if you haven't had the Vietnamese food in Midtown, you've got to try it!

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    1. I'm not sure what the locals mean when you say "Midtown". What/where is Midtown? Would that be the area where Chinatown is located? I would LOVE a recommendation for a Vietnamese restaurant...in Midtown.

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  15. Just found your blog on Tastespotting via this recipe. The soup is hitting all the right notes with me on this rainy day in CA. Love your images, too. :)

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  16. What gorgeous sky color! Adore the flavor of sage with pumpkin. That is a great soup for the season.

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  17. Fabulous photos as always. It's interesting to read all the northern hemisphere blogs about the season changing to Autumn and what that entails. We are still waiting for a true spring here but the blossoms are pushing their way through. I'm still in winter gear though and can't wait to change to lighter clothes. The ginger in that soup would lift it heavenwards.

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  18. Awee...am in love with Pumpkins all over again :) What lovely clicks, Sarah!

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  19. It's here, it's here. The cold front came! I'm so excited to bake and roast things all weekend. Your soup looks perfect for this chilly weather! And, those croutons sound fantastic. I haven't started thinking about Christmas yet, but I am already thinking about our Thanksgiving menu. Can't wait.

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  20. We have pumpkin dishes all the time in our house, amazing vegetable. Your photos looks very artistic as usual!

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  21. Sarah, Gorgeous photos! Beautiful mouth watering soup…I have three butternut squash sitting on my counter right now….hummm!

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