Butternut-Bacon Bisque and Biscuits
I will admit – there are times when the butternut squash I bought three weeks ago is still sitting there on the counter, forlornly waiting for me to decide it’s worth the hassle of cutting, peeling, and coring this thing for an audience (including myself) which has yet to decide that “squash” sounds in any way appetizing. But then there are days like today, when you find yourself browsing recipes and food blogs and trying to come up with something different for dinner. And who can deny the sublime inspiration that bacon provides, in all its glory? Turns out that bacon can actually convert virtually anything into something delicious, even seconds-worthy. How about a soup – nay, a bisque! Featuring roasted aromatic vegetables and spices, blended with savory stock, and garnished with sour cream and the very bacon which lends itself first to the roasting, and then as a crowning glory to the dish. And with what shall we serve this bisque? Home-made biscuits, flaky and fragrant – straight out of the oven. Butternut-Bacon Bisque with Biscuits!
For the Bisque –
- 1 Butternut Squash
- 6 slices of bacon
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
- 1 large onion, chopped into large chunks
- Handful of fresh oregano leaves – or 2-3 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 6 cloves of garlic
- Several grinds of fresh pepper
- 2-3 tsp salt, or more, to taste.
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp olive oil
For the Biscuits –
- 2¼ cups Gluten Free all-purpose flour. Cup4cup works by FAR the best – it’s much more finely ground than some other brands, making these biscuits light and fluffy.
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 tablespoons butter – chilled, and cut into little pieces
- ¾ cups milk, or non-dairy alternative. I used unsweetened cashew milk, which added a great nutty flavor.
For the Bisque –
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cut the Butternut squash in half, and scoop out the seeds and pulp.
- Cut the squash into pieces roughly 1 inch wide and 2 inches long. Now – some people claim you can easily eat roasted Butternut squash peel. I roasted these without peeling them, and then thought I’d better check online for opinions. They are evenly divided – some HATE the taste and texture of the roasted peel, others don’t care. All in all – they are definitely FAR easier to peel after they are roasted than before – it will just take a pair of rubber gloves and five more minutes to peel them with a paring knife, which beats struggling with the tough shell when raw.
- Put the pieces into a ceramic baking dish.
- Chop a large onion into chunks, about ½ inch by 1 inch or so. Put these on top of the onions.
- Core and slice one red, yellow, or orange bell pepper into 1-inch squares. Add this to the mix in the pan.
- Add six garlic cloves. No need to peel them – roasted garlic slips out of its shell very easily once roasted.
- Pour on the olive oil, spreading it evenly. Use your hands to move the veggies around, coating everything.
- Add fresh oregano, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.
- Lay bacon slices atop the whole vegetable mix, so that the bacon drippings can flavor everything underneath.
- Put the pan in the oven for 45-60 minutes – the goal is to have the squash pieces tender.
For the Biscuits –
- While the vegetables and bacon are roasting, place some parchment paper or a silpat on a baking sheet.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, whisking everything well together.
- Add the butter. Make sure it is cold – if it has started to soften, put it in the freezer for a few minutes.
- With your fingers, start squeezing the butter into the flour mixture, until it gets crumbly. Don’t be afraid to leave some larger pieces of butter – this contributes to flakiness at the end.
- Add about half the milk, mixing it into the batter with your hands. Add the rest of the milk, and knead the dough together to mix evenly, forming it into a ball.
- At this point, you could spread some flour on the counter, roll out the dough, and use a biscuit cutter to form several even biscuits. Or you could skip that, and just roughly shape 10-12 dough balls of equal size, placing them on the parchment-papered pan, and squishing them down a bit to flatten them. The dough will be quite stiff, so you’re not going to be able to make “drop” biscuits – it won’t release itself from your spoon.
- Put the pan in the fridge until your vegetables are done in the oven.
Back to the Bisque, and Putting it All Together –
- When the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven.
- Re-set your oven to 400 degrees, and once it is hot, put the biscuits in for 20 minutes, or until the biscuits just start to turn golden brown. (This is tricky with GF flour – it does not brown up as nicely, so keep an eye on it, and do not overbake. 20 minutes should do nicely).
- While they are baking, put on your rubber gloves, and peel the skin off the squash pieces. Drop these and the other vegetables into a large saucepan. Remember to squeeze the roasted garlic out of the peel into the pot as well.
- Set the bacon aside on a cutting board.
- Pour any remaining liquid from the roasting pan over the vegetables in the pot.
- Using a potato masher, mash the vegetables together thoroughly. There will still be large chunks – especially the onions, but this will make blending easier later.
- Set the pan on medium heat, and pour in the chicken stock in stages. Use a hand blender to carefully puree the vegetables and stock together. Add more until you get the consistency you like. I used the whole litre, because I had a large squash to start with, and it made a nice, creamy, thick bisque.
- Add salt to taste, and turn down the fire to simmer.
- Cut the bacon into small pieces, and put them in a bowl for garnishing purposes.
- When the biscuits are done, serve them with butter alongside the bisque. Add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of the bacon to the soup. Enjoy…