As the days are now darker, and the year is coming to an end there are pumpkins everywhere. Not feeling quite ready to tackle a whole pumpkin I thought I’d ease myself in to the autumnal cooking season with the more pear-shaped sister of the pumpkin, the butternut squash. Sage and butternut are a time old complimentary combination of herby and sweet, and along with warming chilli this comforting soup is perfect for these cold, wintery evenings.
Although the cooking time is slightly longer than other soups, the bulk of that is the result of roasting the butternut, which is simple to do and does make a difference to the flavour. Roasting brings out the sweet, almost candied taste to the butternut and as the flesh is scooped out once cooked it means you’re saved the faff of peeling and cutting up an unwieldy squash.
The toasted seeds take only a few minutes, and are well worth the tiny bit of extra effort they take. You could also use sunflower seeds if you have them. Any unused seeds will keep well in an airtight container, if you can stop yourself from nibbling them immediately (I can’t.)
Roasted Butternut, Sage and Chilli Soup with Toasted Savoury Seeds
Makes: 2 generous bowls or 4 starter size portions
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 350-400ml vegetable stock
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp flaky salt (halve if using fine salt)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5-6 leaves of sage (depending on how strong you like it!)
For the savoury toasted seeds:
- 50g pumpkin seeds
- 50g pine nuts
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with paper or foil.
- Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh.
- Score lines across the flesh to help the heat penetrate and rub with the oil.
- Place into the oven for 40 minutes or until it looks golden on top and is soft and cooked all the way through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- While the squash is cooling prepare your seeds by placing them into a dry frying pan and place over a medium heat. Keep an eye on them, shaking them frequently so that they don’t burn. The pumpkin seeds will swell up as they toast, this should only take 2-3 minutes.
- Once they are all toasted turn the heat down to low and pour the soy sauce over the seeds, stirring quickly. The water will quickly evaporate and leaving a savoury coating on the seeds. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
- Once the butternut has cooled slightly remove the flesh from the skin by either scooping it out with a spoon or turning the halves over and peeling the skin away.
- Place the flesh into a saucepan, adding the vegetable stock, sage, chilli and salt and pepper. I tend to go easy on the chilli and sage to begin with as they’re both quite powerful flavours – you can always add more later! (If you have a blender that also heats, like a Vitamix, you can do steps 8 & 9 in your blender.)
- Using a stick blender, whizz up the soup until it is smooth and heat through on the stove before serving. Adjusting the seasoning and add more stock, if needed. You’re aiming for a thick consistency – or else your seeds will sink! Sprinkle over the seeds and a few chilli flakes just before serving.