Houlihan's Butternut Squash Bisque

Houlihan's Bar and Restaurant Recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 pounds fresh whole butternut squash
1 cup sweet onion, diced small
1/2 cup carrot, diced small
1/2 cup celery, diced small
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 (19 oz.) can cannellini beans
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, low sodium
2 tablespoons kosher salt
12 ounces apple wood smoked bacon or a good quality hard wood smoked bacon

Roast the squash:  Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half length wise, being careful as it is hard and can roll over as you cut it. Use 1 tablespoon of the oil and grease a heavy cookie sheet. Place the squash cut side down and oil the skin side with the remaining oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place in oven for 40 to 45 minutes until a knife can pierce the skin easily and it gives to a soft squeeze. Remove the squash from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes or until you can handle it comfortably. Remove seeds and scoop out the squash with a large spoon; reserve.

In the meantime, heat a heavy bottom 3 to 5 quart pot over medium high heat. Add the butter and the mire poix (onions, carrots and celery) and stir. Sweat the mire poix for about 5 minutes until it is soft, stirring often. Add the squash and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chicken stock and cream bring to a simmer for 3 minutes and remove from heat.

Use a stick blender to puree the soup smooth or work in batches with a food processor. Rinse the beans and add to the soup. Return to the heat and bring back to simmer.

In the meantime, cook the bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. Chop into small pieces and reserve.

Season soup with salt to taste. Just before service, add the maple syrup and the vanilla; simmer for 2 minutes and ladle into large bowls. Garnish with 1 or 2 tablespoon of the bacon.