Sunday, November 11, 2012

Harvest Bisque and Finding Romance


It is a cold and rainy day here in Topeka—perfect for this delicious Harvest Bisque!

However, before I share this recipe, I want to tell you a little story. November 11 is a special day for The Picky Eater (my husband, Michael) and me. Not only do we honor those veterans who have done so much for our country, but this is also the day when we met two years ago.

Michael and I connected on Match.com. I had only been living in Kansas for a few months after almost 20 years in New England. I signed up for the dating website to meet new people, discover more about my new state and city, and to have some fun. I wasn’t really looking for romance—honestly! But if something happened, well…

After exchanging emails and phone calls, we set up a date for Thursday, November 11. We met for the first time in the parking lot of a local grocery store. Seven months later, Michael proposed to me in the same parking lot.

Our first date was at Prairie Band Casino. I was excited to go there, not to gamble, but because I heard the food was great! :) We decided to go to the Longhouse Buffet. Since it was Veterans Day, they were offering free meals to all veterans, so the line was very long. As we approached the front of the line, a single middle-aged veteran asked, “Since it’s so busy, would you like to share a table with me?”

I thought Michael would say no since it was a first date. But instead, he accepted! So our first dinner together was shared by Floyd the Veteran, a very nice man who spent the entire meal telling us all about his wife and stepson, who was a handful.

At one point during dinner, as Floyd was talking about all of his stepson’s legal issues, I put my hand on Michael’s arm. It was like magic! We looked into each other’s eyes for just a moment, and a warmth and electricity filled my heart.

Love.

Now we celebrate this day each year. Even though we will celebrate our wedding anniversary on Christmas Eve, this day is our own special day when we remember meeting and falling in love.

So, what does this story have to do with Harvest Bisque? Nothing really, except for the fact that because of that first date I now am able to cook a wonderful, flavorful autumn soup on a cold November day in the warmth of our small apartment home in downtown Topeka.

I have never been more happy or more in love.

Now, for the bisque: I got this recipe from the chef of a New Hampshire restaurant that closed when he moved on to teach new chefs at a local college. I love the combination of corn and squash flavors in the soup. You can use any type of squash you wish (acorn, Hubbard, or butternut), but I use pumpkin puree since it is easy to find this time of year. Just be sure to not buy the pumpkin pie mix instead!

Harvest Bisque
Serves 8 to 10

6 slices of bacon (or substitute 4 tablespoons butter)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 quart (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken stock (or water)
2 cans (14 3/4 ounces each) creamed corn
1 12-ounce package frozen corn kernels
15 ounces winter squash puree (pumpkin, butternut, acorn, Hubbard, etc)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 cups half and half (or heavy cream, for more richness)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until the fat has rendered and it is crispy and browned. Remove the bacon and save as a garnish, if desired. If substituting butter, simply melt it until it begins to bubble.

To the bacon fat, add the onion and fry until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except for the half and half. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until the potatoes are cooked. Add the half and half and adjust the seasonings. Serve as is, or puree with a hand blender for a smoother consistency. Top with bits, if desired.

This soup freezes well. Just be sure to not add the half and half or cream before you freeze it, but wait to add it when you are ready to serve.

5 comments:

Schondo said...

Why would anyone EVER substitute something for Bacon?

Kathy said...

Lovely post and a lovely bisque! Sounds delicious!

Emma @ Food, Fork and Good said...

What a great post, was brilliant to read the story of you and your husband. The bisque looks tempting too, mmm bacon!

Marina@Picnic at Marina said...

Aww, how sweet... Happy anniversary of your very special day! :)
That bisque sounds delicious!

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) said...

104What a wonderful story. Now even I will probably think about you two each Veteran's Day. My aunt goes to that casino all the time... ALL the time. She lives in Hutch. I think this soup sounds wonderful and nice job to grab the recipe before it was gone. I must give this a try.