Sunday, 15 November 2009

Squished squash soup

The wonderful thing about squash is each type tastes noticeably different, from the creamy mild butternut to the denser, nuttier red onion and the rich, sweet kabocha. Its worth making a soup out of every variety you can get your hands on at least once, so it's a while before this recipe will start to get boring.

Serves 3-4

roughly 800g cubed and peeled squash: butternut, kabocha, red onion or any others
a medium to small onion, chopped
olive oil
ground cinnamon
salt and pepper

Split your squash in half and scoop out all the seeds. Chop the rest into chunks, slicing off the skin as you go along, until you end up with pieces that are roughly similar and bite sized.

Place the onion and a pinch of salt into a puddle of olive oil in a saucepan, cover and set over a low heat. Let the onion sweat gently until it turns soft and translucent and then starts to colour and caramelise, this should take up to ten minutes or so.

Turn the heat up to high, add the squash, some salt and pepper and give it all a good stir. Pour over enough water to just cover the squash, cover the pan and bring to the boil. Let the squash bubble away for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how much you have. You'll know its done when your cubes have melted into soft pulp.

Turn off the heat and blend everything into a soft, velvety consistency. Adjust the seasoning by adding little sprinkles of cinnamon and grated nutmeg to the hot soup, blending and tasting after each addition. Every squash is different and I find the amount of sweet cinnamon or fragrant nutmeg that I want varies each time so I prefer to add it at the end. Finish with freshly ground black pepper and more salt if needed.

I love eating this soup on its own in big steaming spoonfuls, then reheated in the following days and garnished with a dollop of crème fraîche, a scattering of paprika or cayenne powder and a squeeze of fresh lime.

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