Friday, 17 October 2014

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

There are so many recipes out there for butternut squash soup, but without a doubt my favourites are those that have a spicy curry flavour and a little chilli heat or those that also include some apple in them.

The first time that I tried butternut squash was many years ago when I first visited the United States, where it was served as a mashed vegetable accompaniment to roast turkey in the restaurant that I was working in. The thing that struck me when I ate it then, was how naturally sweet it was. It is because of this sweetness that butternut squash can take on other punchy flavours without its inherent personality being lost. As already mentioned, I love it paired with apple in a creamy soup, but I would strongly recommend using cooking apples or tart Granny Smith as you need a certain acidity to balance all the sweetness.
 
This is a great soup for this time of year. It’s creamy and comforting to eat but the inclusion of chilli and ginger adds a zingy warmth to the finished soup which enlivens the taste buds. I have only used half a chilli, but if you like it hot, add some more.

Roasting the butternut squash before adding it to the soup really intensifies the flavour, so I would advise you to do it, but if you are short on time you can chop the peeled butternut squash in medium sized chunks and simmer them in the stock.

I have used ground coriander and a few rasps of nutmeg and added these to the onions, garlic and ginger whilst they were softening in the pan. I definitely think that this spice combination added a little something extra to the soup.
 
This is a perfect soup for autumn and looks so cheery and inviting that it is sure to enliven even the most miserable day.
 

Ingredients:

To roast the butternut squash:
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into medium sized chunks
25ml olive oil
A sprig of thyme
½ thin red chilli, chopped finely
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Soup:
1tblsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2tsp of fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground nutmeg
500ml vegetable stock
250ml coconut milk from a can
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
To garnish (optional):
Some coriander leaves
Some thin slices of chilli cut across the centre
Toasted coconut flakes
 

Method:

Roasted butternut squash:
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan Oven 180C/Gas Mark 6. Tumble the butternut squash chunks into a roasting dish along with the thyme, chilli and olive oil. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the squash has softened and started to caramelise at the edges. Remove from oven.
Soup:
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, coriander and nutmeg and allow to cook for about 5 minutes without colouring or until the onions have softened and become translucent.
3. Add the roasted butternut squash, the vegetable stock and coconut milk and increase the temperature under the saucepan. Bring up to the boil and then immediate reduce heat so that everything just simmering away gently. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.
4. Purée the soup in a blender until smooth and then return to a clean saucepan and keep warm until ready to serve. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
5. Garnish with some coriander, chilli and coconut flakes if desired. Serve hot with some crusty bread.
 
Serves 6.