I normally only eat crookneck squash, butternut squash or zucchini -- for a few reasons: they're the only squashes readily available in my part of the woods; I generally don't enjoy eating squash(es); and finally, they're the only ones I recognize right off the bat.
I stopped by the farm market yesterday and saw a nice selection of squashes. I thought about making a butternut squash soup -- one of my favorite things to eat -- when I saw small, rounded yellow and green striped squashes in the same bin. Acorn squash, I thought. A few years ago, I had dinner in Atlanta where I was served an acorn squash soup in the hollowed squash shell. I had brief taste memory of sweetness and rich creaminess. Soup and sandwiches would be good for lunch, I decided, selecting two nice sized ones. Confidently, I marched up to the counter with my acorn squash. Or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when they were rung up at the register as Carnival Squash (remember the squash ignorance I mentioned earlier?). That deflated me for all of ten seconds because as I figured it, a squash bisque is a squash bisque; and as it turns out, Carnival Squash tastes like a cross between sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Bisques originally referred to thick seafood soup puréed with cream, but have come to mean a smooth, puréed soup finished with cream or butter. As we're making no attempt to exercise (although we bought goggles and pretended we'd swim in the indoor pool), I decided making a "creamy" soup with less cream was in order.
I'm going to have to make good on my promise to myself to try new vegetables soon. I've gotten so lazy, using the same things over and over -- and not always because I don't have easy access to a greater selection. I can't even imagine what nice surprises lie in wait.
Carnival Squash Bisque
1 medium onion, chopped
4 lbs Carnival Squash, about 2 medium sized
2 T butter
4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 small boiling potato, diced
3/4 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 T thyme
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut the top off the squash and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle interior with olive oil and season with salt. Roast in the oven until the squash is cooked, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and using a spoon, scoop out the soft flesh, being careful to reserve enough on the sides to make the squash "bowl." (I know there's a better way to do this, but this is what I did yesterday.)
In a heavy pot, sauté the onions, carrots and celery in the butter until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the squash and simmer an additional 6 minutes.
Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender until smooth, adding more broth if the purée is too thick.* Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender (I like my soups a little finer so I also strain the purée, but you can omit this step). Return the purée to a clean pot and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in cream, and adjust seasonings.
Ladle the soup into the squash shell and serve with a crusty baguette.
* I like my soups thick; if you prefer a thinner consistency, add more broth when puréeing.