I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Squash Blossom Bisque

After last summer’s successful experiment with Squash Blossom Pesto, I have been thinking all winter of other ways to use the lovely summer blooms, and soup is the perfect choice. This lovely, bright, sunny soup is very simple – I experimented with more complicated versions, using garlic and herbs and other ingredients, but I find too many elements mask the fresh, lightly peppery taste of the squash blossoms. So simple is best. This gorgeously orange soup is an elegant summer starter or light supper.

Squash Blossom Bisque

I buy my squash blossoms at the farmers market, but for this amount you may need to order ahead.

3 leeks, white parts only

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 carrots

24 squash blossoms

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup milk

Salt to taste

Peel off the outer layer of the leeks and slice them into thin disks. Place them in a bowl of water, swirl them around and leave them to soak for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the olive oil into a 5 quart Dutch oven. Peel and dice the carrots and cook in the oil over medium heat until they are beginning to soften. Do not let them brown. Lift the leeks out of the water, shake them a bit and add them to the pot with a little water clinging to them. The dirt from the leeks settles at the bottom of the bowl, so don’t pour them into a colander, getting the dirt back on them. Stir the vegetables, cover the pot and cook for five minutes or so, until the leeks are wilted, soft and translucent. Stir a few times to make sure they don’t stick or brown. While the vegetables are cooking, pull the hard stems off the squash blossoms, removing the stamens as well. Tear the blossoms into shreds and, when the leeks are soft, add them to the pot. Stir to combine, cover the pot and cook for a few minutes until the blossoms are wilted. Add the chicken broth, bring the soup just to the boil (not a rolling boil), reduce the heat and cover the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are completely soft. Leave the soup to cool for 10 – 15 minutes.

Transfer the soup in batches to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, stir in the milk and heat until warm through. Do not boil. Salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 – 6

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