As a part of my recent transformation into a healthy eater I have become a huge soup convert! I have soup for lunch every day at work and most of the time it’s home made. I discovered that bread really doesn’t sit right with me day in, day out. Now it’s more of a weekend treat. But this meant that sandwiches were off the menu. I will never, ever, be a salad loving girl… Or at least, the kinda of salads I will eat will never be considered healthy! (Bacon, avocado, DRESSING!)
Soup was my salvation. It’s hot, a life saver for those of us with body temperature issues, filling, especially for a liquid, and most of all healthy! I like to eat my soup with 2 rice cakes for a little bit of crunch. (There’s another dieting secret, rice cakes are freakin’ delicious! No one ever told me that!) There really is no end to the tricks you can play with a basic combination of vegetables and stock.
This soup started life as a plain old Butternut Squash Soup. It was good but when I tasted it I thought “This could do with some zing!” So I added some lime juice. Then I thought “This needs a little punch” so the fish sauce came out. And then the coconut milk was just a natural progression and while I was at it why not add some chilli and spices and really give it some pep? And so, Spicy Asian Butternut Soup was born. Enjoy!
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chunked
1 onion, diced
1 chicken stock cube (vegetable if vegetarian soup is desired)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes or 1 fresh chilli, chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp fish sauce
100ml coconut milk (or cream, or powder, whatever you have is fine!)
1/2 tsp dried ginger (2cm fresh grated ginger would be better but I didn’t have any)
1/2 tsp dried coriander
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/ 200C while you prep your butternut squash.
– Toss the chunks of butternut with the olive oil on a large baking dish or tray and scatter with a pinch of sea salt.
– Roast the squash for 30 minutes until just starting to colour and crisp up a little bit.
– Heat a splash of olive oil in a large heavy pan.
– Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until just turning translucent.
– Add the butternut squash, the stock cube the chilli and ~1.5l of boiling water.
– Bring to a boil then turn off the heat.
– Use a handheld stick blended to blend the soup until smooth. (Dependent upon your squash you may find you have quite a thick soup at this point. Just add more water if you prefer a runnier consistency.)
– Add the lime juice, fish sauce, coconut milk, ginger and coriander and give a good stir to circulate everything properly.
– Make sure you taste it as you go! If you feel it needs a little something extra, go for it! This is your soup, tailor it to your preferences!
This was really the Pièce de résistance of the whole meal. It is actually quite a simple dish but looks so impressive. You could do this with any small squash that will stand up on its own (so Harlequin is out!) or you could do it with a larger kabocha as a main dish and serve it in bowls. I think that the individual squash are much more impressive though. When choosing your butternuts go for the smallest, best looking ones you can find and make sure they don’t fall over! I had to go to 3 supermarkets to find the right size so forward planning is vital. Luckily squash keep well so if you see them, snap them up! I have much-loved gratin dishes but if you’re careful you could bake them in a larger dish then transfer to bowls to serve.
Serves 3 (just increase the amount of cream to fill whatever you’re filling)
3 small butternut squash
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp thyme leaves
– Heat the oven to gas mark 2.
– Prepare the squash by slicing in half and scooping out the seeds.
– Place the squash in a baking dish.
– Heat the cream, milk, garlic and thyme in a pan and season well. Heat through until piping hot.
– Pour into the prepared squash.
– Put the lids back on and pour a splash of water into the bottom of the dish to stop it sticking.
– Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Turn up to Gas mark 6 for the last 15 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes before serving with fresh bread. (These are very, very hot straight from the oven!)
For those wondering you eat it by scooping the flesh of the squash out into the cream. You can then eat it with chunks or somehow mush it up to be orange soup as my mum did. How she did it with a just spoon I’m unclear but she was happy! Dipping warm bread rolls in it was sublime too!
An interesting variation would be to add some chopped chilli to the cream for a spicier alternative.
Filed under Easy, Starters
I’m in a very autumnal frame of mind at the minute. I’m home alone this week so I’m not so keen on the howling wind and getting dark early part but I do love walking through the leaves and huddling up inside in the warm. I find that although I’m happy to eat sandwiches for lunch throughout the summer come autumn I feel the need for soup. The warmth you can gain from a bowl of soup and lovely buttery bread is better than the central heating sometimes! I’ve usually been a Heinz fan but this autumn I’m really enjoying making my own soups. The latest one is this Spicy Butternut Squash Soup. It’s not actually what I would call spicy, the chilli comes as a lovely wash of heat over your tongue and complements the mellowness of the butternut wonderfully. Plus I like the colour!
1 butternut squash (about 1kg)
2 onions, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped (mine was quite hot, if yours are milder then add 2)
1 1/2 pints hot vegetable stock
4 tbsp creme fraiche
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6.
– Peel and chop the butternut squash into chunks. (I slice mine in half above the seeds then quarter it vertically, scoop out the seeds in that half and then chop into slices no bigget than 2 cm thick. Then I use a vegetable peeler to take off the skin.)
– Place in a roasting tin and toss in a little olive oil.
– Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
– In the meantime prep your onions, garlic and chilli then put it all in a large pan with a knob of butter and a splash of oil.
– Keep on a very low heat for about 20 minutes until the onions are completely soft.
– Take the squash out of the oven and tip into the pan.
– Add the stock and creme fraiche and stir a little to start mixing it.
– Then take a hand blender and blend the soup until smooth.
– Reheat it when you’re ready to serve.
Filed under Easy, Starters