Patina chef Tony Esnault likes soup. It's one of his favorite dishes to cook at home for his two young sons, William and Charles, and it was one of the dishes most emblematic of his childhood growing up in the Loire valley in France. Esnault serves a small bowlful of this butternut squash soup as an amuse at Patina, with a quenelle of chive cream, a sprinkle of crisp bacon and a few tiny croutons. Unlike many of the elaborate dishes on Esnault's new menu (California squab cooked en cocotte with green and red cabbage Chartreuse and jus simple; fall glazed vegetable mosiac with jus de cuisson and navet oil), this is a very simple recipe. It's also very seasonal, as squash and pumpkins are filling the market stands and grocery aisles at the moment.
Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Bacon and Cream
From: Patina chef Tony Esnault.
For the soup:
2 medium-sized butternut squash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 slice raw smoked bacon
¼ quart heavy cream
¼ quart whole milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the garnish:
2 slices smoked bacon, cut in large dice
¼ cup heavy cream
1 bunch of chives, cut finely
small croutons, optional
1. Peel, seed and dice the squash. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add the slice of bacon, diced squash and salt. Cook this for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently as not to burn the squash.
2. Bring the heavy cream and milk to a boil and add it to the soup. Pour the soup into a blender and blend until very smooth. Pass through a fine chinois (or fine mesh strainer). If the soup becomes too thick, add a little water. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
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3. Whip the cream to a soft peak stage, and gently fold in the cut chives. Sauté the diced bacon slowly until it becomes crisp. Strain and reserve on a paper towel.
4. To serve, ladle or pour the soup into warm soup bowls. Add a spoonful of chive cream, a sprinkle of bacon and, if using, a scattering of croutons. Serve immediately.