Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Autumn is definitely here! The heating finally went back on this weekend after almost 24 hours of perfectly Scottish dreich. So I figured it was time and, to be honest, I’m not really complaining because I’m properly ready for some cold weather.  And soup, apparently 🙂 This one, in particular, is probably my absolute favourite of all the ones Hubby cooks (which makes him sound like some kind of weird soup fiend, but he isn’t!)

He mocks me for my love of blended soups, prefers them chunky himself, but when the result is a rich, silky smooth bowl of liquid magic like this then bring out the blender I say!

We also like to call this the ‘clean out the vegetable drawer‘ soup… Anything that’s languishing in there gets tossed into the roasting tin along with the squash and sweet potatoes. So every time Hubby makes this it’s just a little bit different, with new layers of flavour depending on what he finds in the drawer. And holding all those flavours up is coconut milk, giving this dish a lovely creaminess that marries perfectly with the heat of the chillis in a bit of a South East Asian twist.

We normally top with homemade croutons but in my neverending browse of Pinterest I saw a Thai-ed up butternut squash soup from a blog called Carlsbad Cravings where they roasted the seeds in a sweet and spicy mix and popped them on top of the soup.  To be fair, I only made them to garnish the picture (soup is incredibly difficult to photograph and make look interesting!) but the seeds are delicious, all sticky with the honey and spicy with the Sriracha and crunchy with the roasting. Make them! You won’t regret it 🙂

Before I hand you over to Hubby and his recipe, don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – half of it goes in the roasting tray and the other half are spices.  Also, he rambles… Bless. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4
The flavours of Autumn in a bowl, a balanced blend of coconut and spice that'll heat up those cold, windy days.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Stuff you'll need for the soup...
  1. 1 butternut squash
  2. 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  3. 2 red chillies
  4. 1 red bell pepper or 2 sweet red romano peppers
  5. 3 carrots
  6. 1 white onion
  7. 1 bulb of garlic (the larger sizes for roasting are perfect)
  8. 1 pint / 2 cups chicken stock (stock cube or gel pot is fine if you can't find stock)
  9. 1/3 - 1/2 pint / 1.5 cups warm water
  10. 1 400g can coconut milk (or 200ml double / heavy cream if you don't like coconut)
  11. Oil for roasting
  12. 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon (more to taste)
  13. 3/4 tsp ground ginger (more to taste)
  14. 1/2 to 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  15. 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  16. Salted butter
  17. salt and pepper to taste, white pepper is best
  18. Optional - Cayenne pepper - To add warmth if the chillies weren't hot enough for you
  19. Optional - 1 to 2 tsp chicken powder
  20. Optional - Few dashes Maggi Liquid Seasoning
Stuff you'll need for the Honey Sriracha Butternut Squash Seeds...
  1. saved butternut squash seeds
  2. 1 tbsp honey
  3. 1/2 tsp groundnut/vegetable oil
  4. 1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1/4 tsp ground cumin
Prep!
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. While it's heating up, chop the stem and top off of the squash, and then halve it lengthwise down the middle. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and set aside. Continue scraping out all of the fibrous seed strands until the hollow of the squash is clean. If you're going to roast the seeds, rinse to get any stubborn fibrous stuff of the seeds and then pat dry with kitchen roll
  2. Next, peel your carrots and cut off the tops, and peel your sweet potatoes. Halve the potatoes lengthwise and cut into thick half-round slices, then cut the carrots into thumb-sized chunks.
  3. Peel your onion and cut off the top and bottom, then cut into chunky quarters. Cut the stems from the chillies, slice open and de-seed them. Now do the same for your peppers.
  4. Lastly, peel the outer layer of the garlic, and then chop of the top so that you expose the cloves within.
Cook soup!
  1. Place the squash in your roasting pan cut-side up, and then arrange the other root vegetables around it. Place your whole bulb of garlic in one of the hollows of the squash, and then drizzle the lot with olive or vegetable oil and mix it about to coat. Next lay the chillies and peppers on top of the other veg, skin side up, and drizzle with a bit more oil.
  2. Cover the pan with tinfoil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
  3. After the first half-hour has passed, give the veg a good shoogle about and remove the foil. Put the pan back in the oven, and roast the vegetables for another 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven.
  4. Check and stir the vegetables every 20 minutes or so, and add more oil as necessary to keep the veg from drying out.
  5. When you're roasting the veg you'll need to take the chillies out first, once the skin starts to blister. The peppers will be the second to come out. Be sure to check the garlic as well, and take it out once it's begun to darken in colour and is soft. If the onion begins to blacken, go ahead and remove it as well.
  6. The carrots only need to be softened, as the other veg will roast much quicker, that's ok. The other root veg should ideally be fork-tender.
  7. When the roasting is finished,, allow the vegetables to cool for a bit. While they're cooling, peel the skins from the chillies and peppers and discard. Then squeeze the garlic cloves out of the bulb and set aside with the peppers.
  8. If you're roasting the butternut squash seeds, lower the oven heat to 150C/300F, line a baking tray with parchment or foil and set aside for now.
  9. Now peel the skin from the squash and discard it before breaking the roasted squash into rough pieces.
  10. Next you'll want to blend the vegetables. This is easiest if you have a stick blender, but if you put them into a blender / liquidiser you can strain the lot later, and this is ideal because the finished soup should be smooth and silky. As a note, you may want to add the chillies one at a time, as they can vary in heat, just taste the mix as you go.
  11. Blend all of the vegetables until smooth, adding the chicken stock throughout to make it easier to blend.
  12. After the squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, onion, chillies, peppers and garlic are all blended, strain the mixture through a mesh strainer into a large saucepan or stewpot. You'll need to press the veg through the strainer using the back of a spoon.
  13. Once you've done that, it's time to add the spices and seasoning, followed by the coconut milk (or double cream). Stir well until all of the spices are incorporated then bring the soup up to a good simmer and add extra water (or milk) as needed until the soup is the desired thickness and consistency. It's generally quite a thick soup even with the coconut milk in, so the listed measurements of extra water are a good guide to go by.
  14. If you're roasting the seeds, this is when you want to get them going (see breakout recipe below).
  15. After about ten minutes on simmer the soup should be warm and ready to serve (if you're roasting the seeds then just leave it simmering while they're in the oven, you might need to add more water/milk if the soup thickens up too much though). Finish by adding a bit of the butter for an added silkiness and flavour, and garnish with a few cracks of black pepper or the lovely roasted squash seeds.
Roast honey sriracha butternut squash seeds!
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all the seed ingredients before adding the seeds and stirring until they are evenly coated.
  2. Spread the seeds out evenly on the baking tray and as much in a single layer as you can (they're super sticky!).
  3. Cook for 25-30 minutes (if you like your seeds really crunchy then leave in for a little longer). The seeds will be a little soft when they first come out but will crunch up as they cool.
Notes
  1. The amount of spices in the recipe should be taken as a base reference, feel free to adjust them to your personal taste. If it needs a bit more heat you can add cayenne pepper, but you can absolutely leave it out if the soup is hot enough for you with just the chillies. The spices add another layer of earthiness to complement the squash, or in the case of the cayenne and ginger, a bit more warmth to supplement the chillies.
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Shepherd’s Pie Traditional Style

Shepherd’s Pie Traditional Style

I’ve always been a fan of Delia when it comes to the classics and her Shepherd’s Pie recipe has never let me down, but I’ve always had a hankering to make it the traditional way from leftover roast. Unfortunately, there never is any leftover roast when my family gets together, and making roast lamb just to turn into Shepherd’s Pie seemed a little extravagent.  This Easter though, neither my brother nor I could make it home but my mum still made my dad his festive lamb roast and surprise surprise (not!), without the presence of two greedy children and their spouses, there were leftovers!  Which were very kindly dropped off as the parentals passed by on their way out for lunch the next day, so that they wouldn’t go to waste.  And waste them we did not…

Hubby is the King of the world slow cooking, his pulled pork is legendary 😉 so I left it to him to figure out how to render down the lovely piece of leftover roast lamb into the perfect filling for a Shepherd’s Pie.  He did not disappoint 🙂 The lamb just fell apart in the pot, and after all that time slow cooking in gravy and stock had soaked up their lovely flavours while maintaining that slightly sweet note that lamb has.  As lovely as Delia’s version using lamb mince is it wasn’t a patch on using leftover roast, and I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to go back to Delia after this, the trad style was just that good.  What a fab last Shepherd’s Pie to end this winter on 🙂

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a distinct lack of carrots in amongst the lamb… It was the only thing we didn’t have to hand 🙁 Since they wouldn’t survive the slow cooking process I’d probably dice them up and then cook them off vichy style, and then stir them into the pot of lamb  just before you make the pie up.

Shepherd's Pie Traditional Style
Leftover roast lamb, slow cooked in gravy and baked under a thick layer of fluffy mashed potato.
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Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 500-600g leftover lamb roast (ours was leg but shoulder would be just as good)
  2. 2 red onions
  3. 2-3 cloves garlic, mashed but whole
  4. Enough lamb gravy and/or lamb stock to cover
  5. Any leftover drippings from roasting (optional)
  6. Splash of red wine (optional)
  7. 2-3 tsp Balsalmic vinegar
  8. 1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  9. 2-3 tbsp tomato puree
  10. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  11. 1 tsp dried thyme
  12. 1 tsp sugar
  13. small can of petit pois
And for the mash…
  1. 2lb (900 g) potatoes (Desirée or King Edward, or anything that is good for mashing)
  2. 2oz (50 g) butter
  3. salt and freshly milled black pepper
Instructions
  1. (Slow) Cook!
  2. Cut the lamb into bite size pieces and put in a large saucepan or stew pot.
  3. Roughly cut the ends off the onions, quarter and add to the pot with the lamb. Peel and mash the garlic and pop those in too.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, making sure that the lamb is covered by about 1 inch / 2.5 cm of liquid. Cover and simmer for two hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so.
  5. After two hours remove the lid, and continue to reduce the liquid on a low simmer, stirring occassionally, until it’s a rich sauce. This may take another few hours.
  6. Make the mashed potato topping when you’re in that last phase of reduction – Cut the potatoes into even sized pieces before placing in a pan of boiling salted water. Cook until they’re tender and then drain. Return the cooked potatoes to the hot pan, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to steam for about five minutes. Add the butter and mash, season to taste. Don’t be tempted to add milk like you would a normal mash because you want this mash to be firm on top of the pie. Set aside until you’re ready to put the pie together.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F, gas mark 6.
  8. When the lamb is ready, drain the can of petit pois before tipping into the pan. Give it all a good stir before spooning the lamb and petit pois into your baking dish. Level the mixture out with the back of the spoon without packing it down.
  9. Lastly, spread the mashed potato on top of the lamb. The best way I’ve found to do this is to use a spatula and spread large blobs of mash around the inside of the dish until you’ve got a ring of mash, leaving a gap in the middle for you to dollop the last bit on to cover – this method gives you an even spread of mash without dragging mash and lamb all over the place. I like to roughly fork the mash topping, it encourages the forked up bits to go all lovely golden and crispy.
  10. Pop in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the mash is crusty and golden. Share and scoff!
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Cauliflower and Cider Soup

Cauliflower and Cider Soup

I have an ex-boyfriend to thank for introducing me to this delicious soup, which was more delicious than the ex apparently as after we broke up it was the soup I pined for rather than him!  And his cat, but that’s another story…

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the foresight to get a copy of the recipe at the time. But, I finally found it online last year, hurrah (thanks to easy-soup-recipes.blogspot.com for reuniting us!), and it was every bit as tasty as I remembered 🙂  

The cauliflower blitzes down into a thicky and creamy soup, with the cider adding that sweet and sharp apple note that just goes so perfectly with cauliflower.

This soup is a real winter warmer, and is also the first (and so far only) soup I’ve ever made.  Must sneak another one in before Spring hits… If nothing else, it will give me an excuse to try and get a photo of this that does it justice!

Cauliflower and Cider Soup
Serves 4
A creamy, indulgent warmer that's perfect for a cold winter's day.
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Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
You’ll need
  1. 1 ¼ lb cauliflower florets (which is about 1 medium head's worth)
  2. 1 onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 garlic clove, crushed
  4. 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  5. 2 tbsp butter
  6. ½ cup milk
  7. ½ cup double cream
  8. 2 ½ cups cider (a sweet cider like Magners or Bulmers is perfect. This is "hard cider" for you Yanks!)
  9. 1 chicken stock cube / pot
  10. Freshly grated nutmeg
  11. Salt and pepper
  12. Snipped chives for garnish (optional)
Cook!
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat before adding the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes with the occasional stir until everything is just softened.
  2. Then add the carrot and cauliflower to the pan before pouring in the cider. Give it all a good stir and then season it with salt, pepper and a generous grating of nutmeg.
  3. Bring to a boil, then add the chicken stock cube and stir that in before reducing the heat to low and covering the pan. Leave it to cook gently for about 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft, and then remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Let the soup cool down a little, then transfer to a blender or food processor and purée the lot until smooth (fifi says... We used a blender and had to purée in batches so probably best to try a little first and see how your blender copes with it. If you're using a food processor the recipe I found says to strain off the cooking liquid and reserve, purée the soup solids with enough cooking liquid to moisten them, and then combine with remaining liquid.)
  5. Return the now puréed soup to the saucepan and stir in the milk and the cream. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed.
  6. Simmer the soup over low heat with the occasional stir until it’s heated through.
  7. Ladle up, garnish with a scatter of chives, or a few drops of olive oil and some freshly milled black pepper, and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Perfect with lots of warm crusty bread to dip (Jus-Rol Bake-it-Fresh Crusty White Rolls, or one of those half baked french sticks that you finish baking yourself are perfect), or a fresh batch of sourdough croutons.
Adapted from Easy Soup Recipes
Adapted from Easy Soup Recipes
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/