Thursday, 18 August 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

Apologies for the few days of radio silence, but I have an excellent excuse. The Dine at Mine household has been on holiday! A brief and modest holiday in the UK, admittedly - after all, it's only a few months since we got back from honeymoon. But we were still away from home, not at work, getting a bit more sleep, not listening to the Today programme, drinking every night and scoffing our faces every day.  We really needed it.

Actually, I love going on holiday in Britain. You get to indulge guilt-free in all kinds of greedy food behaviour - proper afternoon tea, fish and chips by the sea, an afternoon ice cream if the sun is even half-shining. You can go to National Trust properties for a quick bit of culture and a whole lot of cake, then spend the evening in the pub. You can have long lunches, afternoon naps and big fry-up breakfasts reading the newspaper, which (unlike abroad) you can actually understand. The weather can be iffy, I admit, but so what? All the more reason to spend time in the pub.

But whenever I've been on holiday, even if just for a few days, I start to feel really unhealthy. Stripped of my normal routine, with licence to give full rein to my greediest impulses, I eat anything and everything and then start to crave vegetables. After days of chips, batter, bacon, scones, fried eggs and rhubarb crumbles (no, not in that order), I came home with a hankering for something green and steamed. Something with a crunch which hasn't come from the deep fat fryer.

Until Mr Ocado brings our food this evening, we were all out of fresh green vegetables but our fridge did offer up an old butternut squash and an onion. Presto changeo, a very healthy, quick and easy soup for the returning travellers. Although it might seem a bit autumnal for August, the windows were streaming with what the papers are calling MONSOON BRITAIN, so a thick and creamy soup seemed to be just the ticket. 

It did feel good to receive some nutrients which hadn't been dipped in tartare sauce or covered in custard. Although, before you ask, no I'm not sorry for any of my greedy eating. After all, we were on holiday! People of the internet, I raise my Mr Whippy to you and toast you with a vinegar-sodden chip. May you be enjoying delicious, greedy and perhaps even sunny Summer holidays!

Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted from an Ocado recipe
Serves 2

- 1 butternut squash, peeled and finely diced
- 500ml of stock (I used home made chicken stock, but a vegetable stock cube would be fine)
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
- olive oil, salt and pepper
- a few chives, finely snipped

Fry the squash in a splash of olive oil in a large sauce pan for five minutes, then add the onion and garlic and fry, stirring, for another 2-3 minutes. Add the stock and some seasoning, bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer it for 10-15 minutes until the squash is tender. Blend it until smooth (and at this stage you can also add a swirl of cream, if you want to make it richer) then serve scattered with the chives.

Spiced, Crunchy Butternut Seeds

- the seeds from the butternut squash, without any of the creepy fibrous membrane
- salt, pepper, olive oil
- a shake of smoked paprika
- the leaves from a sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

Simply toss all ingredients together and toast in a hot, dry frying pan until they start to scorch and pop. Sprinkle over the soup, or just pick at them when you're hungry and trying not to eat crisps. 

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