Sunday, March 20, 2011

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Chilli

I'm celebrating year 2011 with warm and hearthy soup for the coming cold wintery days that caught us by surprise with sudden snowfall on 26, November, 2010! It was expected to be colder and harsher winter in the EU but the sudden snow fall on that day caused much inconveniences and traffic woes that lasted for more than a week! The freezing gloomy days ahead called out for comfort food desperately! All I could think of was a hearty, filling and delicious meal where everyone can dug in as much as they like to their heart's content :-D So, the family agreed on... soup. Not just any soup but Pumpkin Soup with a little twist in the finalé.

This soup is one of my family's favourite whenever we can find quality pumpkins in season and one thing for sure they keep longer unrefrigerated unlike other types of squashes or marrows of the same genus. My favourite choices are butternut and kabocha. It's an easy recipe that is suitable for vegetarian as well. You can also omit the crème fraîche and it tasted just as creamy but a little of it goes a long way. In my family, there is no compromising of replacing crème fraîche with other sort of cream replacement! Only thing permitted is evaporated milk for coconut milk and that IF I don't have any in the pantry :-P

In this recipe, I tried roasting the butternut chunks instead of cooking them straight in the pot like I usually did (and like most soup recipes I tried before). I must say that roasting brings out the sweetness in butternut squash and gave this soup a velvety texture with nuttiness flavour I loved so much. I definitely roast my pumpkin in future not only for soup but in purée for pies and desserts! To round it up... I added some chopped chillies to boost my immune system! Actually, I was craving for something really hot with lots of spiciness and only Kimchi came to my mind but I didn't want the whole apartment screamed to open the windows and doors for fresh air with minus degree and snowed outside! Well, I have to settle for plain chillies :-P

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Chilli
Serves 4-6 portions

1 butternut squash , ± 800 g - 1kg, peeled and deseeded
30 ml Olive Oil
15 g Butter
2 Yellow Onions - medium size, diced
1 clove Garlic, thinly sliced
2 Red Chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
850 ml Vegetable stock/Chicken Stock (boiled hot)
60 ml Crème Fraîche, plus more to serve

1. Heat oven to 200 ºC/180 C fan.
2. Cut the squash into 4 cm cubes, then toss in a large roasting pan with half the olive oil. Roast for 30 mins, turning once during cooking, until golden and soft.
3. While the squash cooks, melt the butter with the remaining oil in a large pot, then add the onions, garlic and ¾ of the chilli. Cover and cook on a very low heat for 15-20 mins until the onions are completely soft.
4. Tip the squash into the pan, add the stock and crème fraîche, then whizz with a stick blender until smooth. Reheat gently and season to taste. Serve the soup in bowls with crème fraîche and garnish with remaining chopped chilli.

If you feel fresh chilli is too strong, you can use chilli flakes instead.
*For Non-vegetarian version, you can add in some chopped Chorizo (my favourite is 'Extra Spicy' ) and omit the chillies if you want :-) If you use chopped Chorizo and add it in Step 3, beware your soup will have a layer of reddish chilli oil. What I did was sautéd the Chorizo separately and drizzle some on the soup just before serving.


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