Butternut Squash and Crab Bisque
This year, fall tabletops are being decorated with natural linens, seasonal produce and bowls painted in copper and gold. But the best way to add color and texture to any autumn meal is by making chef Chris Clime's butternut squash and crab bisque, dotted with Creole sunflower seeds and drops of basil oil.
"The butternut squash in the soup not only adds a nutty heartiness, it also brings a vibrant bright yellow color when it's pureed at high speed," says the executive chef of PassionFish in Reston, Virginia. "Everything from the creamy texture to the rich color and aroma makes it ideal for the fall season."
Butternut Squash and Crab Bisque with Creole Sunflower Seeds and Basil Oil
Courtesy of Chris Clime, executive chef of Passionfish, Reston, Virginia
Yields 12 servings
2 medium butternut squash, cored, peeled, quartered lengthwise and seeded
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 each medium Spanish onions, peeled and julienned
10 cups crab stock (vegetable or chicken stock can be substituted)
1 cup heavy cream
1 sachet black peppercorn, bay leaf, fresh thyme, parsley and garlic clove
1 pound fresh blue crab
Kosher salt and ground white pepper to taste
Remove core from the top of the butternut squash and peel. Quarter the butternut squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Place squash face down on a sheet pan and roast at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until just tender. In a large pot, add butter and onions and sweat over medium-low heat until onions are soft. Add the roasted squash, crab stock, cream and bring to a boil. Add sachet of herbs and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the sachet and squeeze out the juice carefully with a pair of tongs.
Remove soup from stove and let rest for five minutes. Carefully add the soup to a blender, only filling the blender halfway each time. With the lid on the blender, blend on low and gradually increase the speed to high. Repeat this step until all of the soup is pureed. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Add more stock to preferred thickness as needed.
Pour soup in serving bowls—roughly 10 ounces per serving. Top with crabmeat, sunflower seeds and basil oil.
Creole Sunflower Seeds
2 ounces sunflower seeds, raw and unshelled
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
Toss sunflower seeds in extra virgin olive oil just to coat. Spread evenly on a single later on a sheet tray and roast for 6-7 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove and toss in Creole seasoning.
¼ pound basil, fresh
4 ounces grapeseed oil
Pick basil leaves and blanch in salted boiling water. Shock in an ice bath and squeeze dry. Put basil in blender with grapeseed oil. Blend on high until pureed very fine and strain through a chinois. Let sit for 30-45 minutes or until all oil has strained through. Discard basil puree and reserve oil.