Butternut Bisque and Crisp Autumns

Jump to Butternut Bisque recipe

One of the really nifty things for a Southerner moving to Ohio during autumn is that, well, it’s autumn.

You see, in the South, “autumn” is when the temperatures actually get below 80˚F for a change, and the leaves turn dead brown.  Not pretty colors like yellow or purple or red–unless you buy one of those fancy Japanese maples and they actually survive the sweltering heat (or just oven heat, depending on whether you live in Texas or Louisiana).  Autumn doesn’t really exist in the South.  It’s fall: fallen dead leaves, fallen deer that fall dead during hunting season, ducks that fall dead during hunting season, pecans that fall, and temperatures that, uhm, fall.

This is what Louisiana looks like in the fall: misty and slightly chilly, with the pin oaks and crepe myrtles stubbornly clinging to their leaves until Thanksgiving. Everything is green because it rains. A lot.

In the South, there really are only two seasons:  hot and extremely dry; and cold and wet.  Sometimes there is snow in the winter.  Sometimes (during El Niño years, I think) in Louisiana and parts of Texas, it rains all the way through the end of June (and sometimes it will rain just on the Fourth of July, just to spite everyone who wanted to play with explosives, as is the American way).

Fall is also about cooking chili and gumbo.  It’s about pecan pies and deer sausage.  And tailgating any kind of football game.  It doesn’t even really feel like fall until mid-October, unless it was a really rainy summer (El Niño again).  And then fall lasts only about a month before it plunges into winter, or what we call “cold, rainy time.”

Fall in the North, I’ve learned, is drastically different.  It’s properly autumn.

Thomas Kinkade

Thomas Kinkade - Image via Wikipedia (public domain)

Autumn in Ohio is like a postcard autumn, or a Thomas Kinkade painting.  It’s amazing.  The air smells sweet from the leaves turning colors.  And I mean colors.  It’s like Mother Nature took a box of warm colors and dumped it: cornfields and bean fields in fuzzy greenyellowbrowns, trees in redpurpleyelloworanges, red berries everywhere, acorns and buckeyes and walnuts crunching under your feet when you wander through a quiet wooded nature path.

An Ohio lake

See? Ohio looks like a Thomas Kinkade painting.

In the South, it’s state fair time, and everything is deep-fried and oh so delicious.  In Ohio, I discovered farmers markets.  Every weekend, there is some small town hosting one.  And even if you don’t want to brave the freezing cold (it goes down to 40˚F or even in the 30s here!), on any afternoon down a little country road, there will be some farm with a sign advertising homegrown produce.  And the produce you buy there is better–and cheaper–than anything you can find at the grocery store.  And if you know where to look, they may even be organic (or pretty close to it).

One of the first things I did upon moving to Ohio was buy some local honey to cope with the allergies my family suffered from (me the most–as I write this I am recovering from a sinus infection).  I was amazed to learn that some local farmers also keep bees and sell them at local stores.

Squash also make great additions to autumn-themed or Halloween displays. Or footballs for your toddlers.

And then I set out to find the one fruit that is the first thing I think of when I think of fall: squash.  Man, do I love me some squash.  And I terrified my poor husband when he came home from work one day to discover that a quarter of the fridge was suddenly filled with various types of edible squash.

“What are you going to do with all this squash?” he asked me.  “We’re going to get sick of eating baked squash every day.”

“I’ll get creative,” I replied.

And so I did.  Here is one of my alternatives to my go-to of baked squash.  It’s called butternut bisque, and it’s a variation based on a recipe I found in “Simply in Season.”

You’ll need one medium butternut squash.  They are a pain in the rear to peel, so what I did was cut it in half, scoop out the seeds (you can wash the stringy parts off of them, soak them in some salt water, and then toast them in the oven to use as garnish when you’re done with the bisque), and bake it face-down on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes to get the meat soft.  After baking the squash, let it cool and then scoop out the meat.  Whatever you don’t use for this recipe, you can refrigerate (it will last about 3-4 days) or freeze for later.

Butternut Bisque


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of sliced baby carrots
  • 3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups of cooked butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup lowfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and carrots and sauté over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Add broth.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for 1 cup of the squash (set it aside).
  4. Then transfer the mixture to a blender in small batches and purée until smooth.  Return the mixture to the saucepan.
  5. Mash up the remaining squash and break apart the pieces as much as possible.  Then add it to the mixture.  (Note:  If you don’t want a chunky soup, you can just throw all the squash in the blender and skip this step.)
  6. Cook over medium heat until hot.
  7. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and the baked seeds.
The soup is pretty sweet, and so I found that serving it with something sour works well to complement the tastes.  To keep with the autumn foods palette, I served it with my pot roast recipe (which includes vegetables) and a side of purple sauerkraut.  My kids, who are usually quite picky about their soups, destroyed everything.  We had enough left to refrigerate and make as a side with sandwiches for the following lunch.

Butternut bisque, served along with purple sauerkraut and pot roast with veggies

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