Tag Archives: Squash

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup :

It’s almost a cliché isn’t it – to post a pumpkin soup recipe at this time of year?  And that’s why I haven’t done it, until now.   Although I have never posted my recipe for this soup before doesn’t mean that I haven’t been making it.  Oh yes, many a pumpkin has found itself in my soup pan. The only thing was I was never completely satisfied.  I tried all kinds of ways to get the flavour, texture and even the colour right.  I used spices and herbs to try and get there, but it didn’t really do it for me.  I mean, my soup was good, but it just wasn’t hitting that sweet spot.   This year I had a bit of an epiphany on the pumpkin front.  It started, as so many of my recipes do, a bit by accident.  I say accident, but I’m only trying to cover up my compulsion to buy food (some women buy shoes, I buy ingredients).  This time I couldn’t resist all the different shapes and colours of the pumpkins at the market, so I came home laden.  One of the pumpkins I picked up was the red Kuri pumpkin – a new one for me.   You never know what you’re going to get with a new pumpkin until you open it.  I mean, the colour, flavour and of course the flesh to seed to skin ratio.  This was perfect, a good size too, so easy to handle.  Thin skin, easy to peel, bright, sweet and plentiful flesh.  When I was preparing the pumpkin my mind drifted to a red pepper that I had in the fridge so it found itself in there too.  I think this has given the soup the edge, these two ingredients, adding that great colour and extra little bit of sweetness.

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes

Serves 4 to 6
1 x red kuri pumpkin (about 1.2kg / 2.5lb), peeled, de-seeded and rough cubes about 2.5cm / 1in.
2 x tbsp olive oil
2 x large onions peeled and roughly chopped
4 x large garlic cloves chopped roughly
1 x red pepper, de-seeded and chopped roughly
1.5 x liters / 2.5 pts of good quality chicken stock or vegetable stock (no cubes please, please)
½  tsp nutmeg
1 x tbsp of honey or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To Serve (Optional)
Some natural yogurt
Sliced Almonds (walnuts or hazelnuts are good too)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan with a tight fitting lid and add the onion, garlic, pepper and pumpkin. This should be done on a medium heat so that the vegetables soften a little but don’t colour. It’s nice to keep the vibrant colour of the pumpkin.  Cover your pan and allow to sweat for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the stock, nutmeg, salt (just a little – you’re stock will contain some), pepper and honey, stir through and allow the soup to cook at a gentle boil until the pumpkin has softened and cinnamon.
  3. Then use a hand mixer or liquidize the soup until it becomes a purée.  Check for seasoning and adjust if needed.  Serve dressed with some natural yogurt and a sprinkling of almond slices

Tips and Variations

  • Don’t worry if you can’t get the red kuri pumpkin, any type will do. I like the red kuri because of it’s extra orangey colour and I think it gives a smoother texture.
  • Swap the black pepper for white pepper to give it more of a kick.
  • For a creamier more filling version use parsnips or sweet potato as well as squash. This works well as a mealtime soup.
  • Another mealtime soup idea is to add a tin of chickpeas (drained) just before you whizz it up.
  • I would always recommend good quality stock to make soups as this is will affect the flavour greatly. Try and go to your butcher for this or some supermarkets do nice ones too.  The stock cube tends to just be a little bomb of salt and trans fat.
  • Pumpkin likes spice, so if you want a hot version, add some chili, this could be in the form of fresh, powdered or dried.
  • Serve with a bit of crusty bread or a fresh side salad – works well with a goats cheese salad.

Pumpkin Soup

Pasta with Roast Butternut Squash and Spinach

Pasta with Roast Butternut Squash and Spinach

Pasta with Roast Butternut Squash and Spinach

This is a bit of an accidental vegetarian recipe.  What I mean by that is that I didn’t set out to make a vegetarian recipe, but it sort of just happened that way.  Staring into the fridge one day at a butternut squash that I had bought on impulse (ok, some women buy shoes on impulse, I buy squash – what of it?), I had to come up with a way to use it.  I had been obsessing over a curry with squash for a while, maybe combine it with some frozen spinach which I always have in the freezer anyway and perhaps some chickpeas.  But, I didn’t feel like a curry that day, and then it came to me, all of a sudden, it had to be pasta……

Preparation Time: 25 minutes (includes roasting the squash)
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients for 4 Servings
For the Butternut Squash
2 x medium butternut squash, peeled and diced (smallish, bite sized pieces– remember though, they will shrink a bit in the oven)
2 x tsp honey
1 x tbsp olive oil
½ a freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
For the Spinach Sauce
2 x tbsp olive oil
500gr / 1.1 lb. frozen spinach (not creamed spinach), defrosted
3 x shallots chopped finely
5 or 6 sage leaves chopped finely
2 or 3 large garlic cloves chopped finely
300gr / 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, quartered
300ml / 10 fl.oz. buttermilk
To Serve
75gr / 2.5 oz. toasted pine nuts
50gr / 1.5 oz. grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan)
Some extra virgin oil to drizzle over (optional)
Lumache Rigate pasta

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  2. Place the butternut squash in a roasting tray big enough that you can spread it out. Drizzle over the oil, mix it through to cover all your squash, then drizzle over the honey, grate over the nutmeg, sprinkle over a little salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. The time will depend on how big you made your pieces of squash. The result you are looking for is that the squash has softened a little (not mushy though) and that it has taken on some colour.
  3. Whilst the squash is cooking you can get on with the pasta and the spinach sauce. Drop your pasta into boiling, salted water for as long as the packaging instructs.
  4. For the spinach sauce, heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan, then add the shallots, garlic and sage. Cook until they have browned then add the spinach. I like to keep any water that has come from the spinach, I don’t drain it, just add it all. Stir through and add the tomatoes, mix in. Once bubbling, add the buttermilk, mix it through, then add and some salt and pepper to taste. This part of the cooking only takes a few minutes, you don’t want to overcook the spinach otherwise it will lose its vibrant green colour.
  5. When the squash is ready, add about 2/3 of it to the spinach in the pan and stir through, keep the rest back to dress.
  6. To add the pasta, I don’t drain it, as I want to get a little (just a little) of the water in which it has cooked into my sauce. To do this I decant the pasta into the pan with the spinach and butternut by using a slotted spoon. Stir your pasta through, check for seasoning.
  7. To serve sprinkle over the remaining squash, pine nuts, cheese and drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil if you wish.

Tips and Variations

You can make the squash in advance and heat it through the spinach sauce.

Pasta with Roast Butternut Squash and Spinach