To me, soup is one of those dishes that I could not be without. It’s a life saver. Seriously. As a busy mum, who has a penchant for the easy life, in those moments of ‘I really can’t be arsed cooking’, soup is my go-to meal. It’s quick; it’s simple; I’ve usually got some in the freezer (or a tin in the cupboard – my kids go gooey eyed over Heinz Tomato Soup, it’s a proper love affair). And the real bonus is that you actually feel like you’re giving them something healthy (maybe not so much in the case of Mr Heinz). A little bit of effort in a moment when you’ve got some energy (fleeting I know, but I’ve got to catch them when I can), and you can feel smug even when Mr Motivation has left the building (not really sure why all these different male characters are popping up).
My kids favourite homemade soup is the lentil soup I’ve blogged before. But this is a good alternative (just go easy on the chilli). It has a lovely sweetness that is offset by the cumin. And the real bonus (certainly in my eyes) is that you don’t have to peel and cube a butternut squash. I think I originally found the recipe in BBC Good Food (it was a while ago and I can’t find it again). But I ended up changing it a bit as I wasn’t satisfied with the end result. I can’t be the only one who is often disappointed by soup? Too bland? No flavour? I’ve made some in the past that really haven’t cut the mustard – I once made ‘Roast Chicken Dinner Soup’. It was boggin. Never do it.
1 butternut squash (about 900g)
350g potatoes, diced
2-3 carrots, sliced
1.2ltr vegetable/chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed (or 2 tsp paste)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1. Pre-heat your oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3.
2. Cut the squash in half lengthways (you’ll need a big knife, but it’s not actually that hard; if I can do it with my puny arms I’m sure you’ll manage). Scoop out the seeds and discard (or if you’re being all Jamie Oliver you can wash them, and roast them). Place the squash in a roasting tin and dot it with 25g of the butter.
3. Melt the remaining butter in a large pan over a medium heat, add the onion and cook until softened and beginning to colour.
I’m all about making life simpler and so tend to use frozen, diced onion a lot. It
may seem is fairly lazy, but I don’t really give a monkeys as it’s a lot easier throwing in some ready chopped onion that I can have to hand in the freezer, than crying over an onion.
4. Add the garlic (I used paste), ground cumin, chilli flakes, potatoes and carrot. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the stock, cover the pan, and leave to simmer until the veg is soft – approx 25 minutes.
Just for a bit of reference regards quantities, this was how much carrot and potato I used.
5. Once out of the oven, allow the squash to cool a little before scooping the flesh out of the skin and adding it to the pan of soup.
6. Liquidise the soup either using a hand blender or in a liquidiser, then taste and season as desired (it will most likely need some salt and pepper).
It doesn’t really matter what kind of stock you use with this soup. I went to use vegetable stock cubes (4 Knorr stock cubes in this case) and found I didn’t actually have any, so used chicken instead. Still tastes like it should. You also don’t need to add bacon and crème fraîche, I was just trying to make the photo pretty. However, as the Husband said, ‘almost everything is better with bacon in it’. So there you go.