The only good thing about winter is the fact that once more I can dig out my admittedly limited repertoire of hearty home-made soups.I really don’t like the cold. I have the circulation of a 90 year-old woman, the temper of a bear interrupted in hibernation mode and the physique of a squirrel that’s dined out for months on chocolate acorns rather than regular nuts. I tend to hide away in my oversized hedgehog jersey, wear ridiculous striped socks, grumble a lot and not really move far away from the couch and blankets unless under duress.This year though, it shall be different! I shall be the Sam of soups and I shall become known all around the land for my tasty concoctions of healthy liquid vegetable gloriousness.
This weekend marked the start of getting into winter mode. Tom and I made a super delicious and extremely easy butternut soup. When I say we made it, I largely mean Tom made it and I watched. We have very different cooking styles. I never measure anything, throw everything in, add and skip out ingredients and hope for the best. Tom does not. Tom measures everything down to the last decimal, and follows the recipe to the letter. None of this rushing and skimping nonsense for him. Due to this, I’m slightly in awe of my self-appointed head chef, and I tend to resign myself to doing menial tasks while under supervision. Even my stirring is carefully surveyed. Secretly, this works well for me as I end up having to do minimal work and I sneak tastes of everything while Tom isn’t looking like a naughty toddler. It’s great. I would just like to formally point out that I am the better chef – yes, he may have the precision, but I have the flair.
I digress. This butternut recipe is from BBC food and it worked out beautifully. It’s more-ish, satisfying and warming, and the chilli creme fresh on top adds that je nais c’est quois factor. We did sightly change the measurements to make less soup, but I’m not capable of doing those calculations again (not that I did them the first time), so I’ll have to give you the original quantities.
- 1 butternut squash, about 1kg, peeled and deseeded
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 onions, diced
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 2 mild red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (I’m a bit scared of hot things, so we just added a dusting of chilli powder on top)
- 850ml hot vegetable stock
- 4 tbsp crème fraîche, plus more to serve
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the squash into large cubes, about 4cm/1½in across, then toss in a large roasting tin with half the olive oil. Roast for 30 mins, turning once during cooking, until golden and soft.
- While the squash cooks, melt the butter with the remaining oil in a large saucepan, then add the onions, garlic and ¾ of the chilli. Cover and cook on a very low heat for 15-20 mins until the onions are completely soft.
- Tip the squash into the pan, add the stock and the crème fraîche, then whiz with a stick blender until smooth. For a really silky soup, put the soup into a liquidiser and blitz it in batches. Return to the pan, gently reheat, then season to taste. Serve the soup in bowls with swirls of crème fraîche and a scattering of the remaining chopped chilli.
We served it up with crusty olive ciabatta bread smothered in butter, along with a sprig of rosemary and massive dollops of creme fraiche. It was just so good! There’s nothing more lovely than eating gorgeous hot soup and crunchy bread in the kitchen with the person you adore (even if he is a bit of a dictator with the measuring cup). Oh and here’s Tom’s top tip: Don’t waste anything – toast the butternut seeds and sprinkle them on top of the soup for extra crunch and nuttiness.
Next I think we shall attempt essence of potato due to the fact that we have a giant bag of potatoes currently going off. Will report back on how that goes – if you have a simple but scrumptious potato soup recipe do pass it my way please.