Of all the ways to subdue this hardy squash, making a soup out of mashed butternuts is my favoured application.
Spiced up or seasoned simply, creamed or fortified with other vegetables; the versatile butternut soup in any incarnation is a soul-soothing addition to our supper table.
During winter, I like to pep up our meals with ginger for its immune system support and thought it would also give a pleasing zing to the butternut.
Cumin, coriander and the dash of garam masala added towards the end add some spicy complexity to this soup’s flavour profile.
The garnish of roasted yellow pepper and haloumi pan-fried in sesame oil provide a sweet and savoury play against the heat.
As usual, I used my fingers instead of measuring spoons and this makes for messy directives. As I don’t have the daintiest of digits, you will have to taste as you go along.
Begin by de-seeding and quartering a yellow pepper. Place the pepper pieces into an oven tray, drizzle with a bit of oil and grill until the skin starts to blacken. Remove from the heat and set aside.
I used a medium-sized bag of cleaned butternut and blitzed the pieces to softness in the microwave.
In the soup pot, I heated three tablespoons of canola oil and added crushed garlic (six cloves), two teaspoons of cumin seeds and a knuckle’s worth of grated ginger.
I allowed this to fry for a short while before adding a teaspoon of green masala (aka leelo masala, a preparation of green chillies, garlic and ginger).
I added the soft butternut to the pot, mixing it in with the other ingredients and mashing it as I stirred.
In went a generous pinch of dhana-jeeru (a mix of ground cumin and coriander seeds) before the addition of one cup of vegetable stock.
After a good mix, I removed the pot from the heat and used a stick blender to smooth out the soup (you may prefer to transfer the contents of the pot to a blender).
With the pot back on the heat, I added more vegetable stock to achieve a thinner consistency and seasoned with salt, pepper and a generous pinch of ground cumin to really amplify the flavour.
Once the soup reached the boil, I poured in a bit of reduced-fat cream and stirred through a dash of garam masala powder to finish.
Just before serving the soup, I thickly julienned some haloumi cheese and pan fried it with a bit of sesame oil until soft.
On plating up or bowling out as it were, I garnished each serving with the haloumi, strips of roasted yellow pepper and fresh coriander.