Roasted butternut squash soup
This is one of those winter warmers when you need a bit of comfort. It’s great as a light supper and also fancy enough to be the starter at any dinner party. The flavour is amazing, almost nutty, because the star ingredient has been roasted in the oven with onions and garlic. The colours are striking and the indulgent, silky texture is to die for. Frankly there’s nothing better than dunking a big crusty crouton into this big bowl of creamy soup.
1kg butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into segments
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
4 large garlic cloves, leave the skins on
2tbs cold-pressed rapeseed oil
1tbs dried chilli flakes
700ml chicken stock
150ml crème fraîche
Pumpkin seed oil
Wholemeal sourdough bread
1tbs cold-pressed rapeseed oil
1 garlic glove, halved
1tsp dried chilli flakes
1. Heat the oven to 200C.
2. Arrange the squash segments, onion quarters and garlic cloves on a roasting tray lined with greaseproof paper. Drizzle over the rapeseed oil and massage it in so everything gets a good coating. Sprinkle with chilli flakes and salt. Pop the tray in the over for 20 minutes. You want squash that’s soft under the fork and has taken on some colour around the edges. The onions should unfold in your fingers and the garlic cloves can be squeezed out of their skins. This is all flavour.
3. Chop the roasted squash, onions and garlic into chunks and transfer to a saucepan over medium heat. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.
4. Take off the heat and leave for 5 minutes.
5. Stir in the crème fraîche until fully incorporated. Then return to a medium heat. As soon as it begins to boil remove it from the heat and puree in a blender. If you’re really fancy and want an extra-velvety consistency you can push the soup through a fine sieve.
6. Return the soup to a clean pan (in case you want to reheat later).
7. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and toast the pumpkin seeds, tossing regularly. And don’t walk away, or they’ll burn. When they’ve taken on some colour and a few are popping remove them from the hot pan and put to the side for later.
8. Heat a griddle over a medium heat for a few minutes.
9. Cut a double thick slice of bread. Drizzle both sides with the oil and place on the hot griddle.
10. Toast the bread until coloured with a crispy surface (that’s not burnt). Flip it and toast the other side.
11. Remove the bread from the griddle. Give one side a vigorous rub with half the raw garlic clove. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes.
12. Dish up the soup. Garnish with pumpkin seed oil and the toasted pumpkin seeds.
13. Serve soup and crouton.