Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque with Crispy Bay Scallops is a healthy soup recipe that fills you with warmth and comfort. Serve as a light meal or as a starter course for a fall celebration.
Acorn Squash Soup Topped with Crispy Bite Size Scallops
You might not immediately think of acorn squash and scallops together, but they both have an inherent sweetness that is tempered by squash’s earthy quality and scallop’s brininess that just works.
Roasting acorn squash is an easy, hands-off method for caramelizing and deepening its flavor. The rest comes together quickly in a soup pot before being blended into a smooth, silky texture.
Tiny in comparison to their sea faring cousins, bay scallops cook so quickly the bisque has no time to cool before serving. This is an easy, but elegant dish to serve when company comes — it’s a perfect first course for Thanksgiving dinner!
Ingredients for Squash Bisque with Bay Scallops
In addition to pantry staples like olive oil, kosher salt + black pepper, you’ll need:
- Acorn squash — look for heavy, dull-skinned squash with no soft spots.
- Yellow onions + garlic
- Vegetable or chicken stock — I’m a fan of Better than Bouillon reduced-sodium soup bases.
- Herbs + spices — bay leaf, thyme sprigs, fresh sage leaves and nutmeg
- Bay scallops — wild caught is preferable and frozen is totally ok; thaw in the fridge overnight OR do a quick thaw by running a slow steady stream of cold water over a bowl of scallops.
- Cornstarch — this give the scallops a light crispiness when sautéed.
- Sour cream — its subtle tang helps to balance the sweetness of the acorn squash.
- Parmigiano Reggiano — grated or shaved, this gives the soup a little salty bite.
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Steps for Making This Recipe
Roast the Squash
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits, and discard those. Spritz the squash flesh with cooking spray or drizzle with a little olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes. They should be fork tender and caramelized along the edges.
Allow the squash to cool, then scoop the flesh away from the rind and reserve. Discard the rinds.
Start the Soup
Sauté onions, seasoned with a little salt, in olive oil in a large pot until they are translucent and tender. Add minced garlic and cook another minute or so until you get that aromatic scent of garlic.
Add the broth, reserved squash, bay leaf, thyme sprigs and nutmeg and give it a good stir. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and woody thyme sprigs, and adjust seasoning to taste. Add the sour cream, and blend the soup with an immersion or regular blender until smooth. Keep covered and warm while you prepare the scallops.
Pan Sear the Scallops
Bay scallops, especially, cook very quickly. A light dusting of cornstarch helps to give them a crispy exterior. It’s important to follow these steps in order to avoid overcooking or ending up with gummy scallops.
- Season scallops with salt + pepper.
- Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot.
- Place cornstarch in a shallow dish and toss the scallops to coat lightly.
- Immediately add them to the hot pan with some sage leaves.
- Cook them for 2 to 3 minutes total, giving them a toss once or twice while they cook.
- Remove them to a plate when done.
Because they are so small, flipping them with tongs is a losing proposition. They’ll end up overcooked before you get to all of them. Use a flat spatula to help give them a toss or if you’re daring, a quick shake and flick of the wrist will do the job.
Assemble the Bowls
Divide the soup evenly between your serving bowls, then do the same with the bay scallops, setting them in a pile right in the center or off to one side of your bowl. Garnish each bowl with a fried sage leaf and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
Serving Suggestions + Helpful Tips for Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque
- This recipe makes about eight cups, for four generous 2-cup servings. If part of a multi-course meal, stretch it to eight 1-cup servings.
- To make it a bigger meal, serve it with crusty bread and a side salad.
- Add a drizzle of chili oil or crushed red pepper flakes to give it a kick.
- If you prefer sea scallops, make the swap — sea scallops will need to cook a tad longer.
- Make ahead and freeze, but leave out the scallops. Thaw completely before reheating over low heat. Cook the scallops just before serving.
- Store leftovers in the fridge, tightly covered, for 3 days.
Check Out These Cozy Cool-Weather Soups, Too!
- Seafood Stew with Ciabatta Toasts
- Curried Butternut Squash + Granny Smith Soup
- Award Winning Chorizo + Black Bean Chili
Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque with Crispy Bay Scallops
- Sheet pan
- soup pot or dutch oven
- immersion or standard blender
- non-stick skillet
- 2 acorn squash halved, seeds + strings scooped out
- olive oil or cooking spray
- kosher salt + fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 small onions diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 8 oz wild caught bay scallops patted dry
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 leaves fresh sage
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- Parmigiano Reggiano to garnish
- Preheat an oven to 400°F.
- Place the acorn squash on a parchment lined baking sheet, cut sides up. Spritz the flesh with olive oil spray and season with kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 45 – 50 min.
- Once cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into a bowl and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and a little salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant.
- Add the broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to release all the good bits. Add in the reserved squash, bay leaf, thyme sprigs and nutmeg. Stir.
- Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Carefully transfer the soup to a blender, add the sour cream and blend until smooth. (Alternatively, add the sour cream directly to the pot and use an immersion blender.)
- Season scallops with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Place cornstarch in a shallow bowl. Toss the scallops in the cornstarch so they have a light coating. Immediately add them to a very hot skillet with the sage leaves. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes total, giving them a toss once or twice while they cook. Remove to a plate when done.
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