It’s the last week of October and time to start thinking about cool weather and the upcoming holiday season. Denver is finally cooling off, it’s been unseasonably warm but we have frost in the forecast for tonight. Fragrant rosemary, lemon scented geraniums and the fluorescent fuchsia pink blooms of my regular geranium line the windowsills. I’m bidding a sad goodbye to my basil, tomatoes and peppers.
Inside, pie pumpkin covered table and an overflowing box of winter squash await my attention. The farmer’s market here is almost over, in fact there’s only one more week left. Needless to say, I stocked up! Hubby and the neighbor have both been laughing at the state of our fridge. Kale, beets, roasted green chilies, carrots, leeks, parsnips and a few other goodies spill out when the door opens. And I haven’t even really started playing with apples and pears yet. So much to do, so little time to get it all done. I keep mentioning I need a clone but everyone seems to think the world wouldn’t be able to handle two of me.
I’m experimenting with seasonal fall dishes for impressing guests throughout the holiday season. Today is a fun one because it’s easy and uses so many yummy fall veggies. It’s also completely dairy and gluten-free, as well as vegan for my vegan and vegetarian friends. Of course for those who love dairy or are meat eaters, you can change it up by adding some Pecorino shavings or crumbled bacon for more depth.
Pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apples, leeks, parsnips, carrots and lots of flavor make up my Fall Harvest Bisque. You can also look at this bisque as a health booster for flu season because it’s LOADED with flu-fighting ingredients. Fresh ginger, shallots, garlic, thyme, sage and all those veggies are great for the immune system. And because this bisque is not like your traditional bisque, there’s no cream, so it’s low in fat. Another great point for holiday season where we get bombarded with all those wonderfully fat loaded dishes. You won’t miss the fat in this one since there’s plenty of flavor to keep the taste buds happy.
This dish is really easy to make, I marked it moderate because of the need for roasting and making a stock, but don’t let that scare you off from making it. Cut the pumpkin in half, rake out the seeds into a large stock pot and pop into the oven on a baking sheet to roast with the sweet potatoes for about an hour or until soft at 350 degrees F while you peel and cut up the rest of the veggies. Add all the scraps to the large stock pot, fill with water and cook on the stove for about 30 minutes to make your stock. By the time the pumpkin and potatoes roast, you’ll be ready to cook up the bisque.
Fall Harvest Bisque
2 cups roasted pumpkin purée
2 large roasted sweet potatoes, peeled
2 large heirloom carrots, about 1 cup (I used yellow and orange ones so not to mess up the color of the bisque, avoid purple for this reason)
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and diced
1 cup sliced leeks, cleaned
1 small shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large apple, chopped, about 1 cup (I used Honeycrisp)
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 Tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh sage, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 tsp. white pepper
1/3 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. fresh ginger
Pinch ground cinnamon
5 – 6 cups veggie stock
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Don’t worry about cutting up everything to small or mincing, this all goes into a blender or food processor at the end to become a beautiful creamy smooth bisque.
Add olive oil to a large soup pot and heat over medium high heat. Add the leeks and cook until tender before adding the shallot, garlic, cumin, white pepper, crushed red pepper, and cinnamon. Cook until fragrant.
Pour into the white wine and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the parsnips, carrots and apple, followed by the pumpkin purée and sweet potato. Add in the veggie stock. Bring to a boil. Lower the temperature to medium and allow the bisque to simmer for about 45 minutes or until the stock reduces by almost half.
Time to process the bisque in a blender or food processor until smooth, about 4 to 5 minutes. Go a little longer than you might normally process because you do want the bisque very smooth and creamy. Place back into the large pot and put back on the stove over medium heat.
Add the fresh thyme, sage, ginger and almond to the pot. Heat the bisque through and serve hot with crusty bread.
Garnish with fried sage leaves, browned butter, Pecorino shavings, crispy bacon or toasted pumpkin seeds.
More warming soup recipes to try: