Thursday, 10 May 2012

Nut butter and Butternut Squash soup with Salami Crisps

 Butternut Squash Soup with a secret ingredient...

It's the month before Christmas. A month filled with half-asleep sleeps from the run of festive parties. I begin to expect the regular full-moon interruptions from the boy T, the knocking into doors because he bends over funny as he unties a shoelace, a cheeky stumble  before just making it to the kitchen and downing pints of water in attempt to claw back sobriety. Probably punctuated with a carol. 
One of these nights I’d left a butternut squash soup open on the stove to cool. T comes back in normal fashion (after dad-dancing through Shadow Lounge jaegerbombs with his work team). Irregular drunken steps. He falls into the kitchen. Silence. Then all I hear is the eruptive ‘Oh my God, wow!’ 
It's the soup. He's just tasted the soup. He goes back for more. 

It's a premiere reaction. Had I ever had that response to my soup-making before from anyone, I'd be sweating at the stove making stock more often. 

The soup is cooked up again this springtime (albeit drizzly) week because the suggestive marrow repeatedly pops up in my veg box. And it's even better than I remembered - creamy without having an ounce of cream, sweet without added sugar. Any eater expecting your standard squashy soup is invariably surprised at first taste with the deliciously deep flavour of peanut butter Americana. It's a soup that's savoury and sweet, spiked with chilli-hot goodness, fresh with coriander and lime, lifted with the mere whisper of ginger. And with a topping of crisp salami, a steaming bowl of this moreish blend is pure perfection after a hard day's (or hard night's) work.  

Nut butter and Butternut Squash soup 

Pre-soup. The ingredients

1 butternut squash - peeled, seeded and diced into small cubes
1 large onion or 2 small onions finely chopped
1 red chilli chopped
Knob of ginger - thumbsize, grated
1 large garlic clove - finely chopped
1 litre veg stock/chicken stock
3 heaped tablespoons peanut butter
Juice 1 lime
Big handful coriander
6 Milanese salami slices (optional)
Salt and pepper
Salami crisps
In your soup pot (my trusty cast iron number) slowly fry salami slices on both sides until crisp - it will fry in its own fat so you don’t need to add any oil. Set aside.
In the same pan, add some butter and the onion, and fry on a low heat for five minutes until translucent. Add the ginger, chilli and garlic, and fry for a minute or two. It should be gorgeously fragrant. 
Add the squash and fry for at least a good 10-15 minutes on a low heat until they become slightly soft and frayed round the edges. Season with salt and pepper. 
Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes partially covered with the lid. Before taking it off the heat, add the peanut butter and mix until dissolved. 
Pour into a blender (you might have to blend in batches), and throw in the bunch of coriander too and the lime juice. 
Blend until smooth. Pour back into the pan to gently heat back up again.
Serve with the salami crisps and a cheery sprinkle of chopped coriander.

Second helpings. Grilled fennel dressed with lemon in the background