Fall Harvest Star: Thai Winter Squash Bisque

This is not your ordinary bisque, a French soup that is rich, thick and creamy. No, this bisque comes with Thai flavors and utilizes one of the stars of the fall harvest, winter squash.

Even though the recipe calls for acorn squash, it can be made with most varieties of winter squash. The best squash varieties for soups are butternut, acorn, carnival, kabocha and buttercup. Look for squash that is medium in size, free from any blemishes, and firm to the touch. Carnival squash is usually smaller than its cousins, so you may need to use two for the bisque.

Instead of roux (butter and flour), the bisque is thickened with red lentils. Lentils of all shapes and sizes pack a powerful nutritional punch — high in fiber, protein and antioxidants. Red lentils, in particular, breakdown easily, creating a thick and velvety bisque. Soaking the lentils for 8-12 hours under refrigeration prior to cooking will increase the bioavailability of the nutrients. However, this is an optional step and the soup will be just as delicious made with lentils straight from the pantry. 


Thai Winter Squash and Red Lentil Bisque

Recipe developed by Marcy Gaston

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 medium acorn squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon Thai red chili paste (Sambal)
4 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups red lentils*
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush the foil with a teaspoon of olive oil. Place the acorn squash flesh side down on the foil. Bake until the squash is tender, about 20-30 minutes (depends on the size of the squash). Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. Peel off the skin and scoop out the flesh. Reserve the flesh for the soup.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and onion; sauté for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add the Thai red chili paste; sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock and the lentils and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring up to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 20-25 minutes.
  3. Add the squash to the soup and cook for another 10 minutes. With a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth. Add the coconut milk and lime juice. Blend to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Garnish with cilantro before serving.

*The red lentils can be soaked ahead of time for 8-12 hours in the refrigerator. When ready to make the soup, drain the lentils.

Time saving note: the squash can be cooked up to 1-2 days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Marcy Gaston, MS, RD, CD
Marcy Gaston, MS, RD, CD, is a Food Service and Culinary Arts Instructor in the Hospitality Management Program at Montana State University. While earning her master’s degree in Sustainable Food Systems from Montana State University in 2014, she collaborated on many projects including a community food truck, which sold affordable fresh produce to low-income residents in Bozeman. Marcy writes many recipes, many of which are on her blog, Cooking Sustainably. Her blog also covers issues pertaining nutrition and sustainability. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, baking, gardening and watching movies.