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Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup

I've eaten commercially made butternut squash soup from the supermarket, but felt that it didn't really do justice to such a tasty ingredient, so I set myself to task on making my own, in the hope I could do better.
Instead of cooking the squash in the stock, I chose to roast it, without oil, to intensify the sweet, rich flavour. The addition of spices and red pepper give the finished soup a slightly exotic fragrance without being overbearing.

Serves 2 as a main meal

Ingredients
1 small butternut squash
3 small parsnips, peeled and trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
half teaspoon cumin seeds
1 red pepper from a jar
half pint vegetable stock
nutmeg, freshly grated
black pepper, freshly ground
water

to serve
handful pumpkin seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan
hazelnut oil, to drizzle

Method
Cut the parsnips and squash into large chunks (no need to peel or de-seed) and put them into a baking tray, cover with foil and put them into the oven, Gas 5 for an hour until soft.
When they're done remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic, fry gently for about 3 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and continue cooking until the onions are soft and translucent.
Remove from the heat.

Remove the seeds and peel from the squash and put in a food processor along with the parsnips, red pepper and the onion mixture.
Pulse the mixture in the processor to form a stiff puree. While the processor is still running add the stock slowly until it becomes completely combined.

Transfer the soup mixture back into the saucepan, grate in a good amount of nutmeg and add a generous twist of black pepper.
Stir in the water and bring the soup to a good simmer. It shouldn't be runny but quite thick and hearty.

Serve in deep bowls, scattered with pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of hazelnut oil.

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