What’s cooking today: Roasted butternut soup
There are many ways to make butternut soup. My way is to start by roasting the butternut with onion, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon and plenty of garlic, and finish it off with orange and dhania.
Butternut is not short on flavour in its own right. Even if simply roasted with salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil, its caramelisation will turn it into a flavour bomb. But, by the same token, butternut can take on plenty of other flavours, and that is what this soup is all about. The butternut is roasted with cardamom, star anise, cinnamon sticks, onion and garlic for an hour before you even start to make the soup, finishing it off with fresh orange juice and zest. The result is a soup with a whack of flavour that’s best served with butter-fried crunchy croutons.
1 large or 2 small butternuts, seeds removed but not peeled
3 or 4 Tbsp olive oil
1 white large onion, peeled and cut in half
6 to 8 cloves of pickled garlic
4 star anise
2 small cinnamon sticks
12 cardamom pods
1 medium onion chopped finely
More olive oil for frying the chopped onion
Juice and zest of 1 orange
2 bay leaves
Salt and black pepper
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
Golden white bread croutons, for garnish
Chopped coriander for garnish
Strips of zested orange for garnish
Halve the butternuts and scoop out the seeds. Leave the skin on. Peel and halve one onion.
Oil an oven dish and place the onion and butternut halves in it, dousing them in oil on all sides.
Place 1 star anise in each butternut cavity and 3 cardamom seeds on each butternut half. If using one large butternut, also place star anise on the plain of the cut squash.
Add the cinnamon sticks on top of butternut halves. Pop 2 garlic cloves in each butternut cavity and/or in the oil in the pan.
Roast in a preheated 220℃ oven for an hour.
Chop the second onion and sauté in a deep heavy pot in olive oil. Add the star anise and cinnamon from the oven pan. Add 2 bay leaves. Sauté for 10 minutes on a gentle heat, stirring.
Remove the garlic cloves to a board, chop them and add to the sautéed onions.
Scoop out the butternut flesh and add it. Chop the roasted onion and add it.
Remove the star anise and cinnamon sticks.
Add stock, stir and bring to a simmer. Cook very gently for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring now and then.
Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Add orange zest and juice and simmer for three minutes.
Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Sauté small squares of white bread in heated butter until golden brown and crisp, then stir in chopped fresh coriander and season with a little salt and pepper.
Serve the soup with croutons, chopped coriander and slivers of zested orange rind. DM/TGIFood
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