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Bolognese and Bisque 

I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, especially now that the weather is more wintery and the nights start sooner. For me, I love to read a recipe and then head to the refrigerator and pantry and see what is available. Lately, I have been using a lot of winter squash in my cooking; waffles, pancakes, Bolognese sauce and bisque type soups. 

Last week, I added some Butternut squash to my Bolognese sauce and then I made a hearty bisque soup for Thanksgiving, using Sweet Dumpling squash and yams. It was simply delicious. The Butternut added a little more sweetness to the Bolognese and using the Sweet Dumpling and yams for the base of my Bisque created an incredibly earthy and natural sweetness. 

When I am in the kitchen, I have found that a few minutes of organization and a few hours of simmering turn the simplest of ingredients into wholesome and hearty dishes, and they are also easy to make for just two people, or a big batch for leftovers, and it can be “freshened” from one meal to the next by adding salads, or pasta, or side dishes. I have cut and pasted a few definitions from a few fun websites.

So, what exactly is Bolognese sauce? Bolognese sauce is basically a sauce made with ground beef, onions, tomatoes and fresh herbs, and served with pasta. It’s an Italian meat sauce that originated from the city of Bologna. However, it’s more than just beef, onions and a jar of spaghetti sauce. It’s about the depth of flavor you get from cooking all the ingredients in stages and letting the sauce simmer so it becomes thick, rich, and hearty.

What is Bisque? A traditional French chef would define a bisque as being a thick, creamy soup made with shellfish and thickened by a paste made from their shells. Julia Child was one chef to popularize lobster bisque in the United States; her recipe uses both the shells of the lobster and rice to thicken the bisque. Today, the definition of bisque has expanded to include vegetable bisques, like tomato and butternut squash. The word is more related to the smooth texture of the dish and the use of cream. Most modern bisques are thickened using rice. Some cook the rice in the broth and strain it out later, using only the left-behind rice starch to thicken the soup. Others puree the rice into the soup to thicken it. Almost all bisques are finished with hot cream for a velvety texture. The richest bisques also include butter! Bisque should feel smooth and luxurious so it must be very thoroughly blended. In the past, chefs would’ve used a vintage tool called a food mill to ensure everything was absolutely smooth, but you can use an immersion blender.

Cooking with fresh produce is both an art and a science! I’m hoping to share some of our favorite meals throughout the winter months. Stay tuned.

Happy Meals,