Butternut squash is the perfect vegetable for making soup, as winter lurks around the corner. It even has the right colour palette...
Today W was at home with that same annoying cold that I had last week, making me not run the Amsterdam half marathon (which was ok, ate and drank lots instead at the amazing Italian neighbourhood place Ciro Passami L'olio and Fenan Klein Afrika where they serve communal Ethiopian eating on huuuuuuge fermented pancakes, "injera", awesome), so i figured a nice and warming soup would be the perfect treat.
Butternut squash to the rescue.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1.5 l vegetable stock
4 large carrots, cut up in chunks
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chunked
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
fresh ginger, about 1/2 a thumb sized, chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika powder
1 tbsp soy sauce
fresh coriander, finely chopped, for garnish
300 gr lardons or pancetta
creme fraiche, for dolloping in the soup
salt and pepper
olive oil for roasting
butter for frying
First set your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. While it is heating up, peel and cut in chunks the carrots and butternut squash. Put the chunks in a bowl, add some olive oil and stir around until all the pieces are lightly coated. Place chunks on a pan in the oven, leave to roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the squash is softening and starts taking on a lovely golden brown (yes, the roasting does make difference for the taste).
While the veg is roasting, first fry the lardons crispy in a large frying pan on medium heat with a knob of butter. Set lardons aside, but keep the fat in the pan and gently start frying the chopped onion, garlic and ginger.
Now take a small sauce pan. Place the ground coriander, cumin and thyme in the dry sauce pan and heat it gently while swirling the mix around until small whisps of smoke start coming out and you can feel the spicy fragrance filling your kitchen. Make sure not to burn them. When you feel the fragrance, take the pan off the heat.
When the onion starts going translucent in the frying pan, add in the spice mixture and let fry for another 2-3 minutes. Also add in the cayenne pepper and paprika powder and make sure it is all nicely blended. As you add the spice you will see it soak up the fat making the mixture go a bit dry, so keep stirring it around and make sure it doesn't burn.
Put the onion mixture in a big cooking pot, large enough to hold all the veg and the stock. Deglaze the frying pan with some of the stock to get all the nice lardon frying goo loose from the bottom, add to the cooking pot.
By now the veg should be done roasting, get them out of the oven and into the cooking pot. Pour over all of the stock, bring to a simmer and let simmer for 20-25 minutes. Then remove from the heat and leave to cool a bit.
Blend the contents of the pot using a food processor or staff mixer, making it entirely smooth. You may need to add some more water (heat it in a kettle first) to be able to get it smooth and soupy.It shouldn't be like a puree.
Add in the soy sauce and any additional seasoning to taste, reheat if needed.
Ladle in big bowls, put a dollop of creme fraiche slightly off center and a small handful of lardons right next to it... Sprinkle with chopped coriander, serve piping hot to the impressed diners who probably are all hanging out in the kitchen drawn in by the wonderful aromatic smell emanating from the cooking pot.
W? She stopped coughing. Magic soup I tell you.