I love simple food. I love taking beautiful fresh ingredients, messing with them only a little and turning them into something delicious. I love fancy food too. But for me, simple food sits at the heart of being human. If it nourishes and comforts it really doesn’t get any better for me! After two soup recipes in three weeks you may be thinking to yourself that I must be nuts. About soup. And you would be right. For me a good soup is both food and medicine and sometimes even the caregiver too. Soup is colder weather’s answer to salad. During the winter months I make soup at least three time a week – there is so much you can do!
Now I know Nataniël feels very strongly about being served butternut soup time and again at dinner parties, so I won’t suggest this for a special menu. I will say that you can fancy this up to make it more special, either way I’d be happy to have it at your dinner party!
This butternut soup is wholesome family fare. It is very simple, the apples give it a bit of sweetness and autumnal appropriateness with the gorgeous gold of the squash. The colour brings some sunshine into your being. It is gently spiced, adding to the warmth with which it fills you – feel free to add some chilli if you like and take the heat up a notch.
My family love it as it is, redolent with spice and hinting at sweetness with a velvety mouthfeel – Bliss
1kg butternut (peeled and cut into chunks)
2 apples (cut in half)
Olive oil for roasting and/or butter for sautéing
2 large leeks or more if smaller (cleaned and Sliced)
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
Small knob of ginger (optional. minced/grated)
Cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, cayenne pepper
1l good quality vegetable or chicken stock
Salt & pepper
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees.
Place the butternut and apples into a roasting pan. Coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and spice to your liking. Think of creating a pleasing combination for your palate. Taste and adjust. Put in the oven until golden and starting to catch in places. This forms a great flavour base, it darkens the taste and really makes it more special.
In a large pot, melt some butter then add some olive oil. Add the leeks and sweat them down until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger. Remember to cook the garlic but don’t let it burn, if the pot feels too dry give a splash of white wine or vermouth, or water if you prefer, but make sure to let it cook off. If you want to be fancy use a splash of Calvados – an imported apple brandy! Take off the heat at this point until the roasted butternut and apples are gorgeous and ready.
Then put back on the heat, add the butternut and apples along with any juices or crispy bits in the pan. If some is stuck to the pan, deglaze with some stock. Add the stock to the pot and gently bring to the boil. All the components are cooked, you just want them to mingle and make friends. Take off the heat and blend until smooth. I find blending in two stages achieves that velvety perfection I am after, but I’m not suggesting you take on my OCD! I like to blend in a little cream for smoother texture.
Serve in warmed soup bowls with some feta cheese crumbled over the top or some cream drizzled instead. Crisp up some pasture-reared bacon to put on top and if you want to get fancy make some spiced apple crisps for a special touch. Enjoy it as is or with some crusty bread or hot buttered toast – YUM!