The following recipe is inspired by one from Nigella Christmas, a book which is always a great source of comfort and inspiration to me at this time of the year. Nigella Christmas is a colourful and calorie-filled collection of recipes which are ideal at Christmas, but also for parties and entertaining in general.
Oftentimes throughout the year, I find myself cooking from this book whenever we have a large gathering, particularly since a lot of the recipes are in the “serves 16-20 people” category. Though, most of the recipes can easily be scaled down to accommodate more sensible headcounts.
Nigella’s Roast Squash and Sweet Potato Soup is a lovely update on a similar recipe in Nigella Express. Although the recipe specifies butternut squash, I instead used pumpkin which is more readily available where I live.
The vegetables for the soup are first roasted in the oven with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg which later lend a gentle spiciness to the soup. As I could quite happily sit down to a tray of roast vegetables as a meal, I had to resist helping myself to a more than a few golden chunks of pumpkin and sweet potato as they came out of the oven.
I had initially thought that roasting the vegetables would be an unnecessary step, particularly in terms of washing up. But whilst roasting the vegetables would take a little longer than if you were to simply cook the vegetables in the stock, the end result is absolutely worth it; the flavours are more robust and the colour of the soup is more intense. And, to be honest, hardly any effort is required of you to stick a tray of chopped veges into the oven.
I think this soup will be a new favourite in our home, and not just at Christmas time.
One obvious deviation I took from Nigella’s recipe was to peel the veges. I know Nigella is a bit lazy sometimes and quite proud of her shortcuts, but I couldn’t bring myself to not peel the sweet potatoes, especially knowing in advance that they would later be whizzed up into the soup. Sometimes I am happy to eat roasted vegetables, like potatoes and sweet potatoes, with the skin on, but most of the time I find that the skin is an unnecessary and chewy obstacle to what could be a really good meal. So if you are using butternut squash and sweet potatoes in this soup, feel free to leave them unpeeled à la Nigella.
Nigella suggests freezing the soup but I have never thought to freeze soups of this kind before. Could anyone please tell me if vegetable soups like these freeze well? Do you lose any flavour upon thawing?
- 700 g (1 1 /2 Lb) pumpkin
- 500 g (1 lb) sweet potatoes
- 1 large red onion
- olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 litre (4 cups) vegetable or chicken stock
- salt & pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel the pumpkin and sweet potatoes and chop them into
- large chunks, about 5 cm (2 inches) in size. Peel the onion and cut it into quarter wedges.
- Place the vegetables onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper or foil. Drizzle the
- olive oil over the vegetables, and sprinkle over the ground cinnamon and freshly ground
- nutmeg. Roast the vegetables for about 1 hour until they are golden and cooked through.
- Bring 1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock to the boil. Add the roasted vegetables to the
- stock and use a stick blender to purée the soup. Alternatively, purée the vegetables with
- some stock in a blender, though you will have to do this in a few batches. If the soup is a bit
- thick, add some more stock or hot water to thin out the soup.
- Heat the soup until it is gently simmering and taste for seasoning.
14 October 2013: I recently served this soup as a starter at a cocktail party and it was an instant hit. Poured into little espresso or coffee cups, they were a dainty surprise to our guests and it set the tone nicely for the canapés which followed. Allow guests to top up with a big jug of soup nearby.
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