And now for something a bit different. I wrote a light hearted sort of review the other day about this little one cup flask thing I often take fishing with me (see here), and a guy left a comment asking if I could blog about how I made the soup I mentioned in the review, this rather delicious roast butternut squash, chilli and coconut soup. Well why not? Something different is good if you ask me, and I reckon a fair few of you take a flask of something when you go fishing - and fishing aside, this is of course a great soup to have at home. Perfect winter food if you ask me. Soup and fresh bread? The simple pleasures..........
My wife makes a lot of really good soups, and with my issues surrounding the eating of most vegetables, I don't generally want to know what she's putting in them. I know it's pathetic, but as long as they're all whizzed up I'm fine with it (baby food?), and I know she sees it as a good way to get vegetables inside me. I blame my vegetable issues on filthy food at boarding school, but whatever the case, whilst I do a fair amount of cooking here at home, I don't tend to get involved in soup making - until that is I had this particular soup at my folks' restaurant in Old Amersham the other day. Holy cow it was just awesome, and I set myself the task of making it.
I went looking for recipes online, and like most soup it's pretty easy to make, although if you go looking yourself you need to make sure to ignore any suggestions to squeeze the juice of a lime in at the end of the process. Believe me, this ruins it. My bad luck to find a recipe that suggested this, but second time around and with no lime juice, if I don't say so myself, the end result was a mean bit of soup. Although a flask of coffee is close to heaven out on the rocks, a decent bit of homemade soup takes the proverbial biscuit if you ask me. Let's make this soup then, and rest assured it's very easy.
Cut a whole butternut squash up into smallish chunks. Remove the seeds, lightly paint the chunks with olive oil and roast them in the oven for about 40 mins on a regular kind of heat that you'd roast a chicken on.
Roughly chop up three red chillies and remove the seeds, and then chop up a decent sized onion. Gently fry both together in a fairly large saucepan until nice and soft.
Once the butternut squash is cooked (stick a knife into the flesh, it should be nice and soft), let it cool down a bit and then use a spoon to scoop all the flesh away from the bits of skin on the chunks. Chuck these chunks of (skinless) squash into the onions and chillies and stir around for a moment.
Add a pint or so of chicken stock to the squash, onions and chillies, stir it around, and then run the whole lot through some kind of food blender to completely liquidise the whole mixture into a really smooth consistency with no lumps in there. Pour this glorious looking mixture back into your original saucepan.
Now add a carton of coconut cream and gently stir until it all melts into the soup. Have a taste, season if needs be, and tell me that this isn't one of the best soups you have ever tasted. I've never had a tin or carton of soup that tastes anywhere close to a good homemade soup, and I am adding this roast butternut squash, chilli and coconut soup to that list. Mess around with the amount of chilli you put in there to get the required kick you want from it, but I found that three chillies seems to give a good mix with that subtle coconut sweetness. Christ alive, I'm turning all foodie!!
Anyway, please tell me what you think about Henry's cooking tips!! I am hardly some kind of chef, although I do pride myself on my year round barbecuing, and I have various opinions on what constitutes a decent barbecue for starters - and it ain't gas!! Enough of that though. If you are so inclined, have a crack at this soup and I hope you find it as good as we do.
Back to fishing - here's a preview of some of my work that is coming out in the new issue of Sea Angler which is out this week. I love how they continue to be so behind bass and lure fishing, and it's exciting times with a new editor at the helm.