I guess I really set myself up for this post when I challenged Karyn for the ‘Queen of soups’ title in January. I started making soups back when I was buying my first home and had so little money left after paying my mortgage, that my weekly diet was determined by what was left on the stalls at the local market at 4pm on Saturday – whatever they couldn’t sell and wouldn’t keep till Monday was the basis for that week’s meals…and would need to be cooked pdq too. So I became famed for my coloured soups…as in “This is nice. What is it?” Me “Hmm, this is…(after looking closely at what was in the pan)…green soup.” (or brown, or orange or whatever!) I do have enough cash to choose what soups I make these days, but still make lots where I have no hope of reproducing the recipe because I make it up as I go along. That’s really the basis of much of my cooking; play with tastes and flavours until whatever you’re making tastes right for today. Baking is really chemistry, so you have to follow the recipe for the magic to work, but any other sort of food? Just try it out till it works for you. Anyway… here’s my ‘Orange’ soup recipe (note: it contains no oranges!)
1 average sized butternut squash
Sweet potatoes (as many as give the same quantity of flesh as the squash)
2 large red (bell) peppers
2 garlic cloves
500ml vegetable stock
500ml milk (I use goat’s milk, but I’m sure it would be as nice with cow’s milk for those of you who can eat it!)
100ml (ish) olive oil
Peel and chunk the sweet potato and peel, chunk and deseed the squash. Chunks about 4-5cm cubes is about right. Chuck them onto a baking tray and put into the oven on about 190 degrees C for about 30 minutes. (Actually the temperature and timings don’t really matter; just bung them in the oven till they’re both soft and starting to brown – I always do this when I have the oven on for something else as they’ll keep for a couple of days in the fridge once cool)
Peel and roughly chop the onions and peppers. And here’s another ‘doesn’t really matter’; some people will always remove the skin from peppers, and if that’s your thing, then do it, but I never bother for this recipe. Peel the garlic cloves.
Put the oil into a largish pan, and once it’s warmed add the onions, and after a few minutes the garlic. You need enough oil to almost cover the onions so they kind of stew in the oil rather than fry, so the exact quantity depends on the size of your pan and onions… When both are soft add the peppers. When the peppers are soft add the roasted squash and sweet potato. Mix it all up and pause to look and smell….soooo gooood! See?
Now you need to add the stock and start to blitz the soup. I use a hand held blender, but if you only have a jug type blender, then that’ll do too. Keep going till it’s as smooth as you can make it (will probably look like porridge!) Now add the milk gradually and continue blending until really smooth. If it’s not thin enough when you’ve added all the liquid, then add more, still blending till it’s right for you.
Reheat slowly till hot, stirring to stop it sticking on the bottom of the pan. Serve with a swirl of yoghurt (this is goat’s yoghurt) and home made croutons. How to do these? Cube some slightly stale bread (it tends to be the crusts from sliced wholemeal bread in this house) and toss them in a bowl with about a tablespoon of olive oil until they’re all nicely oily. Then just chuck them onto a baking sheet and stick in the oven with the squash and sweet potato till they’re brown enough for you. Or even a little too brown, like these ones! Enjoy!