Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Butternut soup

I am the queen of soups. Or so I like to think, anyway! But that wasn't always the case. I used to think that soups were about the scariest things imaginable to try to make. Looking back, now, I don't know what all the fuss was about - it's as easy as... in fact, considerably easier than pie.

I love a nice warming soup on a cold winter's night, and am quite happy to have it as a meal, not just a starter. Although, as a concession to the hefty appetites of my sons, soup for main course always means that there will be dessert.

Unusually for England, I have no qualms about inviting people over for 'soup and rolls'. Granted, these evenings usually involve a choice of three soups, fresh baked rolls, dessert, a few games of Ch√ľngel, a lot of chatter, and almost as much laughter, but dinner invitations in the UK usually involve rather more upscale fare.

As you can see, the picture accompanying this post is well over three years old. It was taken when my elder son was studying food technology at school and chose to make this dish for one of his practicals. Perhaps the fact that it was made single-handedly by a teenage boy will embolden you to try it, even if you've never made a soup in your life.

One small inconvenience about this recipe is that it works best if you have a blender. But I promise to share other recipes that don't need extraneous electrical equipment.

1 large butternut squash
1 or 2 onions (this is a taste issue - why not experiment until you get the balance you prefer?)
Chicken and/or vegetable stock - enough to cover the vegetables when peeled and chopped
Coriander leaves
Plain pouring yoghurt
Mild curry powder

  • Peel, de-seed and cube the butternut into chunks of about 2.5cm
  • Finely chop the onion
  • Pop all of these into a saucepan/pressure cooker and cover with stock
  • Add about 5-10mls of salt (see note below)
  • Boil until the butternut is very soft and the onions absolutely done.
  • Finely chop about a loose handful of coriander leaves and add at this point
  • Blend the mixture (including the liquid) until completely smooth - if you have a food processor type blender and have to blend the soup in shifts, this might take a while, so you might need to reheat the soup afterwards. Do this gently.
  • You might need to add liquid (water, stock, milk, cream - your choice) if the soup is too thick, but you are aiming for a fairly thick consistency, here.
  • When you serve, pour a little plain yoghurt into the centre of each bowl and give it one little swirl. It tastes great and looks attractive. Sprinkle a little mild curry powder in the centre of the swirl and add a bit more fresh, chopped coriander (and/or a sprig)
  • Serve with warm bread rolls
  • Try adding carrots and/or parsnips before cooking
  • Stir in the grated zest of an orange or a lime before blending
A note about salt:
These days, we are all being warned about excessive salt intake. I have a fairly light hand when it comes to salt, but I find I add more salt to soups than to anything else I make.

Remember: It's easier to fix an undersalted dish than an oversalted one. You can always add more salt after cooking if you need to. If you oversalt, one trick is to throw a whole potato into the dish and cook it for a little longer. The potato absorbs some of the salt, but this won't work very well with a blended soup recipe like today's.

If you are a salt lover, and you're conscious that you should try to cut down, try some of the low sodium options, or use herbs to add flavour.


  1. ..try frying the curry powder first, then add the onions and fry till soft, then add the squash and fry until both are beginning to caramelise, then add stock and finsh as above - this really intesifies and sweetens the flavours.(This recipe is almost the same as one of my favourite soup recipes!)You can make the same recipe with sweet potatoes too - looks absolutely lovely - a bright intense orange...and I would challenge you to the Queen of soups title - I love making and eating soup and we regularly have a nice chunky fish soup and homemade bread for dinner!

  2. Ooh! My very first comment! How exciting.

    Nice twist, Catherine. Thanks. And I'm not really precious about the Queen title. We can share. How's that? ;o)

    What also works well is to roast the butternut and the onions (obviously not finely chopped in that instance) with or without red bell peppers in the oven first, and then to blend them.

    With regard to your chunky fish soup: I confess that I am not very creative with seafood. One of my sons doesn't enjoy it at all, and I am quite picky, myself... which is a little unfortunate for someone who is married to a descendent of Swedish fisherfolk! My seafood repertoire is sadly limited. But I would love to try your fish soup if you'd be prepared to share the recipe.

  3. My sister who lives in Aberdeen asked me if I could help her out with exactly this... I then had to remind her that I hate butternut.. well I suppose I don't hate it, but it does remind me of baby food and that I really do hate. I said to her that I would look in our recipe books and email her.. gosh thanks for saving me the time and effort.. ha ha all I had to do was send her the link.
    Plus it is so much nicer knowing where the recipe comes from. Thanks K!

  4. @Jo Glad to have been of help. Hope your sister enjoys it.