It might just be damp outside but I can feel a proper cold snap coming and when a friend wrote on Twitter she’d seen frost I knew it was time rescue some vegetables from the allotment.
The problem with frost is it’s frozen water from the air but it will also mean frozen liquid in all my surface lying beetroots and squashes. They go mushy as the molecular structure changes as it freezes and defrosts and while this is great when you want to tenderise something like squid it’s less great when you want to preserve structure or flavour.
Butternut squash properly stored lasts for months so I cut mine, making sure to leave plenty stalk – this is where moisture can get in and you don’t want that.
So with a few hardening off in my spare room (radiator turned off) I thought I’d whip up a favourite winter soup recipe with a butternut.
This comes from Dom Chapman the head chef at the fantastic Royal Oak pub in Berkshire and alumni of Heston Blumenthal’s kitchens.
I used a fresh red chilli added at the beginning instead of the cayenne and very little milk as I like my soup thick and this came out thinner than I expected. I also roasted the skins of the butternut tossed in olive oil and on a baking tray for 30min at 150C then scattered on top
Ingredients (makes four generous servings)
Butternut squash soup
1kg of butternut squash
1 large onion
200g of butter
1l of water
700ml of milk
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1. Peel the butternut squash. Cut it in half lengthways and scrape the seeds out. Then slice the squash with a mandolin as thinly as possible
2. Halve the onion, peel and slice as thinly as possible
3. Take a pot large enough to hold all the ingredients and melt 150g of the butter over a low heat, being careful not to burn it. Add the onion and butternut squash and sweat off over a low heat for 10 minutes
4. Turn the heat up and add the water, then simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are completely soft
5. Remove from the heat and liquidize the soup. Pass through a fine seive. Now add the milk to obtain the right consistancy. The soup should be silky-smooth. Be careful you do not add to much milk, so diluting the flavour
6. Finish the butternut squash soup by whisking in the rest of the butter and check the seasoning. Stir in a dash of cayenne pepper just before serving