On the menu:
Butternut Squash Soup with Almond Nut Butter and Toasted Almonds
Just because Halloween is done and dusted, doesn’t mean the pumpkin needs to be forgotten. You may even still have some left overs from your artistic pumpkin carvings.
I love squashes in all their guises, their flavour, their health properties, their versatility and the fact you can have one at the back of your cupboard for months without it getting spoiled. Thus why I tend to have a butternut squash at the back at my cupboard most of the year (my cupboards aren’t big enough to accommodate the full size versions of the squash family)
This is my basic spicy butternut squash soup recipe, but I was intrigued by the idea of adding a nut butter as suggested by the River Cottage. A flavour twist and added “good fats”. What’s not to like?
Making your own nut butter is incredibly easy. Just whiz up a couple of handfuls of your chosen nuts (almond, peanut, cashew etc. Not your husband’s, just saying) in a powerful blender or food processor for 10-20 mins until smooth and pasty. Don’t worry if it is powdery and grainy to begin with. As long as your blender or food processor is capable to keep whizzing for 10-20 mins without overheating or blowing up, your patience will be rewarded, as it will eventually form a smooth paste once the natural oils have been released.
It helps the depth of flavour to toast the nuts of choice in a 150 C oven for up to 15 mins if you’ve got the time and inclination. Leave to cool before processing.
No need to add anything else, except perhaps a pinch of sea salt or Himalayan salt if preferred.
If you like your nut butter a little crunchy, add some chopped nuts at the end of processing, pulse a couple of times until the texture is to your liking and you’re done. Store in clean screw-top or clip jars.
Else, there are some wonderful raw organic 100% nut butters around, even in most supermarkets, such as the Raw Health Almond Butter I used on this lazy occasion.
To make a good vegetable stock, use exactly the same method as for my chicken stock, minus the chicken, doubling the veg. There will be no fat to skim, but instead, it is advisable to make double the amount you need and reduce by half to double the taste.
This recipe would work equally well with pumpkin or sweet potato, but the name of the recipe would then obviously not be quite so funky.
And if you don’t like or can’t handle nuts, leave the nut butter out altogether. This recipe works beautifully without the nut embellishment too.
Butternut Squash Soup with Almond Nut Butter and toasted Almonds (serves 4-6 GF DF LC V Vg RSF)
1 butternut squash or approx. 800gr -1kg pre-prepared squash, cubed
1 large onion, peeled, roughly chopped
1-2 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
1-2 carrots, peeled, roughly chopped
1 leek, whites only, roughly chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 red chilies, deseeded if preferred, finely chopped, or some chili flakes
A fat thumb of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 plump garlic cloves
1.2-1.5l vegetable stock, home-made or using something like Marigold Reduced Salt Vegan Bouillon powder
170-200gr nut butter, to taste
Juice of a lemon or lime (optional)
A handful of coriander or parsley, finely chopped
some plain bio yoghurt, crème fraiche or a nut cream
Toasted almond flakes or pumpkin seeds for serving (unsalted toasted peanuts if using peanut butter)
If using a whole butternut squash, preheat the oven to 200 C.
Halve the squash length-ways and place skin side down on a baking tray. Roast for approx. 40-50 mins or until cooked. Cool a little, then scrape out the fibrous inners and seeds with a spoon or melon baller. Keep the seeds for toasting and topping later, or for another recipe. Scoop out the cooked flesh and set aside. The skin and fibrous bits can be discarded.
Heat a large stock pan over medium heat and melt the coconut oil. Add the onion and sweat for a few minutes without colouring. Add the celery, carrots and prepared squash if using. Sweat for 5 mins or so.
Add the chili, garlic and ginger. Stir, turn the heat down to low and sweat for another few minutes.
Turn the heat to medium-high, add the stock, season generously and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back to medium-low and simmer uncovered until the vegetables are cooked (approx. 20 mins).
Spoon a ladle or 2 of the hot stock into a bowl with the nut butter. Stir through until the nut butter has melted into the stock. Add to the rest of the soup, together with the roasted squash if using instead of prepared squash.
Mix through and blend the soup with a hand blender, or leave to cool a little and blend in batches in a blender or food processor until silky smooth. Check the seasoning and squeeze in lemon or lime juice to add a little zing to the nutty earthiness (not needed if not using nut butter)
Serve in soup bowls with a drizzle of yoghurt or nut cream, or a blob of crème fraiche, the toasted nuts or seeds and a sprinkling of chopped coriander or parsley. (GF) Bread for mopping optional.