I'm a great fan of butternut squash and even started growing my own in the garden last year. With the intense colour of sunshine, it brightens up any plate whether served in slices and sauteed in olive oil, stuffed and baked in the oven or diced in a risotto. For sheer intensity of flavour, dazzling colour and minimal preparation, you can't beat a lovely roasted butternut squash soup.
This recipe is simplicity itself. The squash, onion and garlic are all baked in the oven with olive oil and thyme before being pureed in a food processor and diluted with some vegetable stock. The result is a truly delicious soup with a soft luscious texture and superb natural sweetness! And did I mention the colour?
Ingredients Serves 4
I medium butternut squash (approx 1 kg/2lbs)
1 large onion
5 cloves garlic
8 - 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 tbsp olive oil
1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 300ml boiling water
fresh parsley to garnish
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6.
Cut the squash lengthways and remove the seeds and any stringy bits but leave the skin on. Cut into chunks and arrange in a single layer with the cut side upwards in a large baking dish.
Leaving the skin on the onion and garlic too, cut the onion into quarters and together with the garlic cloves, place in between the squash.
(Five garlic cloves may sound rather a lot but, when it's baked slowly in the oven, garlic becomes soft and gooey and mild in flavour)
Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables and place the thyme sprigs on top. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for an hour or so until the vegetables are tender. Test for softness with a sharp knife and, if the squash still feels hard, give it another 15 to 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and leave for a few minutes until cool enough to handle or until you are ready to make the soup.
Using a spoon, scrape the squash from the skin and place in a food processor.
Discard the outer layers of the onion and remove the sprigs of thyme. Squeeze the garlic cloves between your fingers and add the soft garlic puree to the processor with the cooked onion wedges.
Blend until smooth and then transfer the pureed vegetable mixture to a large pan. Gradually add 300ml hot stock or enough to make a smooth soup. If it's too thick, just add some water.
Reheat the soup gently, check the seasoning, then ladle into bowls. Garnish with a little chopped fresh parsley.