It’s that time of year again! Pumpkins will be hitting the stores soon, if they already haven’t in you area. Apples are in season too, sitting ripe and full on the trees. What should we do with all this goodness? Make Pumpkin Apple Bisque!
What is a bisque?
A bisque is a thick, rich soup that has had the ingredients blended into it. Traditionally bisque includes seafood, but it doesn’t have to. In this case we’re going to use pumpkin, apples, and fresh herbs.
Pumpkin and apple are two of America’s favorite flavors of Fall. There’s nothing quite like an apple picked straight from the branch or a pumpkin pie made from a home-grown pumpkin. But these flavors are normally associated with sweet deserts and snacks. Most people don’t think of making soups or main dishes out of them.
The key to using pumpkin and apple in main dishes is using warm herbs and flavors that compliment the sweet, fresh taste of these fruits. Herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, and garlic blend beautifully with both pumpkin and apple without masking their crisp earthiness.
In this recipe we’re also going to learn how to make our own pumpkin pack, which is normally bought in cans from the store. If you don’t have the option to do this don’t worry. Using store bought pumpkin pack will work just fine.
So, lets get to that first recipe. The first thing you need to know about making your own pumpkin pack is that not all pumpkins are created equal. Small, dense pumpkins make better food pumpkins than do the large hollow pumpkins that we use for carving jack-o-lanterns. When picking a food pumpkin try to find a pumpkin that is between the size of a double fist and the size of your head. Next, knock on it and listen to the sound. Remember, a dense pumpkin makes a better food pumpkin. Try to pick the pumpkin that sounds the least hollow.
A note here though, if all you can find are the big carving pumpkins that’s okay too. They will be more stringy and taste more like ‘fiber’ but if you prepare your pack correctly it won’t make that big of a difference.
After you get your pumpkin home wash it and cut it in two. Scrape out the seeds and strings like you would when getting ready to carve a jack-o-lantern, and set those aside.
Next, cut your pumpkin into strips or cubes no more than an inch and a half wide. Place the pumpkin pieces into a steamer flesh-side down or on their sides. Steam the pieces until they are extremely soft to the touch of spoon and the flesh is beginning to separate from the skins. Remove and let cool.
Once the pumpkin pieces are cool enough to handle begin scraping the flesh from the skins with a spoon or fork. Discard the skins to compost and put the pumpkin flesh in a blender or food processor to puree. Scape down sides as necessary to ensure that the entire batch becomes thoroughly and evenly smooth.
That’s all there is to it! You can store pumpkin pack by pressure canning it, freezing it, or use it right away. It will keep the in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for several days as well.
Note: if you are planing to make your bisque immediately after making your pumpkin pack save the water from when you steamed the pumpkin You can add it to your bisque to add extra flavor and vitamins!
Remember those pumpkin seeds you set aside when you clean it out? lightly salt them and then bake them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to make a healthy savory snack!
Pumpkin Apple Bisque
3 cups pumpkin pack
1 cup cream or coconut milk
1 cup water
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 tangy-sweet baking apples (I use Gala)
1tablespoon minced fresh rosemary -or- powdered dry rosemary
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine pumpkin pack, water, cream or coconut milk, broth, rosemary, garlic, salt, and cinnamon in large pot with lid. Set to cook on low-medium heat and cover. Stir occasionally.
Skin and core apples. Save skins and discard cores. Cut apples into 1-inch thick slices, then cut slices into thin chunks. Add apple chunks to bisque, cover, and let cook on medium-low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the apples have begun to cook remove 1 cup of the bisque to blender and puree with apple peels. Return mixture to pot, stir, and cover. Turn heat up to medium and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples are fully cooked and beginning to liquefy. Remove from heat and serve hot, or let cool and serve chilled.
Note: Because this recipe involves cream or coconut milk you do not want to cook it on a higher heat, as this can curdle both. If you’re short of time and need to cook it on a higher heat you wait and add the cream or coconut milk right before you take it off the stove. Some people prefer to do it this way so the flavor of the cream or coconut milk comes through more, but I’ve found it to overpower the delicate flavor of the apples.
This bisque can be made dairy-free by using the coconut milk instead of cream and a diary-free margarine like Smart Balance Light.