Ah, it’s definitely autumn now – wet, windy and freakin’ freezing! But when the lighting is right and the weather hits that perfect mix of chilly and fresh, crisp and clear, I realise just how much I love autumn. I mean, who in the food world doesn’t?! The incredible produce all around and the replacement of green salads with rich stews, burnished fruit pies and comforting soups.
Now, I’m not a soup person. Not at all. After a rather unfortunate incident about 5 years ago which meant I had to live off nothing but soup for 2 weeks (tip of the day – cycling with a pen in your mouth is a bad idea) I find it hard to get excited about it. With one or two exceptions, I just don’t do soup. The two exceptions? Jerusalem artichoke soup and this soup. Jerusalem artichokes aren’t in season yet but when they are, I’ll share as it’s a winner. This one epitomises autumn in a bowl. Just heaven. And, by total coincidence, it’s super healthy! Yum…
Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
2 carrots, chopped
1 large leek, sliced
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 celery sticks, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 pints vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Toss the butternut squash in 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 25 minutes until soft and caramelised around the edges (that’s where all the flavour is).
While the squash is roasting, heat the remaining tbsp oil in a large heavy based saucepan. Fry the onions, leeks, carrots, celery and potatoes for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fry for about a minute, being careful not to let it burn. Add the herbs and spices and fry for another minute or so. Add the stock and the roasted squash and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 30 mins until all the vegetable are soft. Let cool a little and blitz with a handheld blender (or regular blender or food processor) until the desired level of chunkiness has been achieved. Can be served with a drizzle of cream, a little olive oil, a sprinkling of herbs or even some crumbled up bacon. Tastes even better when left for a day or so!
Oh, and of course, don’t forget the bread…