We just returned from a wonderful holiday in the Kentish countryside. Two nice and cultural weeks with medieval castles and churches, old manor houses and beautiful landscapes. Two perfect weeks, as well, with the opportunity to treat ourselves to local products at farmers’ markets and to tea with goodies. We had a good kitchen to experiment in and, while the girls were climbing the high tree in the garden, enough time to relax and thumb through the new cookery books I brought along. This means there’s ample inspiration for photographs and new dishes to try out in the next few weeks! But now that we’re still unpacking, I’m particularly up for an old favourite: a warm bowl of squash soup while I sit back and land.
I love the friendly, welcoming flavour of butternut squash. It’s equally good in cupcakes as it is in savoury dishes and my favourite use of it is in this soup. For this, I roast the squash with carrots, before blending it with vegetable stock. Roasting gives the vegetables a deep, rich flavour, with as an added bonus the wonderful smell in the kitchen when you open the oven. The result is a heart warming soup, which I spice up with ginger and lots of black pepper.
The topping in the picture is based on a mixture of seeds and nuts which Ottolenghi frequently uses in his salads and which works wonderfully in this soup as well. For the photograph I sprinkled an elegantly small amount of it onto the soup, but the combination is so good, that after capture I immediately lose all elegance. I myself, the children and the guests I serve this soup to, usually help ourselves to more of the topping about three times during the meal.
Butternut squash soup with ginger and roasted seeds – serves 4
- 1 butternut squash, about 1 kg
- 700 g carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 red onions, chopped
- thumb-size piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 1 l hot vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp. black sesame seeds
- 1 tsp. nigella seeds
- 10 g sliced almonds
- 124 ml sour cream or plant-based yoghurt (optional)
- coriander leaves or thyme leaves, for garnishing
- freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220oC/425F/Gas7.
Halve the squash lengthwise. Remove the seeds, then place the squash halves onto a lined baking sheet with the cut sides up.
Add the carrots and the unpeeled garlic cloves. Sprinkle the vegetables with olive oil, then roast them for 45 minutes until tender. Halfway through, turn the carrots so they turn evenly golden brown.
When the vegetables are tender, remove them from the oven, then turn down the oven temperature to 180oC/350F/Gas4. Put the vegetables on a chopping board and line the baking sheet with a new layer of parchment. Spread the seeds over the baking sheet and roast them for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Leave them to cool and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion and ginger and cook them for 8 minutes until soft..
Cut the carrots into pieces and add them to the onion mixture. Over the pan, squeeze the roasted garlic flesh out of its skin. Use a spoon to scoop the pumpkin flesh out of its skin and add this to the rest of the veg in the pan.
Pour the stock into the pan, then whizz with a stick blender until smooth.
Divide the soup over 4 bowls. If you like, add a spoonful of sour cream or plant-based yoghurt to each bowl and garnish with a bit of chopped thyme or coriander.
Scatter with black pepper and lots of the seed mixture.
Serve with crusty bread.