Friday, 24 September 2010

Spicy squash soup

You know that Halloween is just around the corner when pumpkin and squash start to appear in the shops. My husband plants different varieties of squash in our garden every year. Last year we had an abundance of the ‘carnival squash’ (one of my favourites). It is cream speckled with orange and dark green colours. The flesh tastes rather like a sweet potato and it is delicious in soups. 

This year he planted some ‘sweet dumpling squash’, which are pale skinned with green flecks. The flesh of this squash suits both sweet and savoury dishes. He also planted some good old butternut squash for us to savour.

As the autumn nights are starting to draw in, I decided to whizz up some warming soup for a family supper and use up some of the squash from our garden. You can make this soup using either squash or pumpkin. I personally prefer to use squash as it has a lower water content. Whatever you use, you can make this soup as spicy as you wish to suit your taste. It really is very good and very warming.

Serves 6
1.5 kg/lbs 5oz squash or pumpkin
4 tbspns olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tbspn grated fresh ginger
1 400ml can coconut milk (reserve 4 tablespoons if you want to drizzle some on the plate for service)
2 lemongrass sticks
850ml/1 ½ pts vegetable or chicken stock
1 teaspoon hot red Thai curry paste (remember, you can always add more if you want a really spicy soup)
lime juice and sugar to season
1 red chilli, sliced for serving (optional as the soup may be hot enough)
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt (or to taste)

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/gas 6.

2. Cut each squash/pumpkin into pieces, sprinkle with half the oil and season. Roast for about an hour or until the squash is tender throughout.

3. Meanwhile, put the remaining oil in a pan, put in the onion, ginger and lemongrass and cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft over a medium heat (take care not to let them take on colour).

4. Stir in the curry paste and cook for one minute. The add the roasted squash or pumpkin and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Take out the lemongrass and blitz the ingredients with a blender. Return the soup to the pan and season with salt, pepper, lime juice and sugar to taste.

5. To serve, you can drizzle some of the coconut milk if you have reserved some, and sprinkle with the chopped chilli if you want the dish really spicy. Serve with a hunk of bread.

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