There are some things which turn up in the weekly vegetable box which, inexplicably, I struggle to use up. It isn’t that I don’t like them, quite the reverse actually, but I seem to have something of a mental kitchen block with butternut squash and beetroot.
I once made a chocolate and beetroot cake but, still reeling from the horror of my chocolate courgette cake, the children flatly refused to try it and so I began to lose my enthusiasm for experimenting with vegetable based cakes.
This week the idiocy of it all reached unacceptable new heights. Rummaging through the long red peppers and a wonderful bulb of fennel, which will almost certainly find itself hanging around in a salad which features some orange, there was the familiar upturned mushroom cloud of another butternut squash. That’s four now sitting on the tray with the onions and garlic.
I can never understand why people want to buy soup. It never tastes better, it certainly isn’t nutritionally better and it is absurdly easy to make up and create flavour combinations that none of these commercial producers would ever think of. Today I’m conservative and marry two of the squashes with a couple of carrots, some cloves of garlic and a handful of oregano, sage and thyme from the garden. It is quite magnificent, a feast spoilt only by an obstinate bread tin which refused to release my loaf resulting in a bake which looks as if it has stepped on a landmine.
Later, with the fifty or so radishes I have harvested from the garden I’m going full on with a radish and mint soup combo, leaves and all. Try finding that in your local Waitrose.
Butternut Squash, Carrot & Herb Soup
2 butternut squashes
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
A handful of herbs – I used Oregano, Thyme and Sage
Vegetable stock powder
Preheat the oven to 200/Gas 6
Peel, seed and roughly chop the squash into hefty chunks
Peel and roughly chop the carrots and onions into similar size
Put the vegetables into a shallow baking tray
Bruise the cloves of garlic and tuck in amongst the vegetables
Pop the herbs in with the vegetables and garlic. Remove any woody stalks because you don’t want to be buggering about with them after this point
Dowse the vegetables with a few good slugs of olive oil
Roast in the over for around 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and taking on some colour.
Transfer to a big saucepan and add 1.5 to 2 litres of boiling water. (You can add a bit more if it’s too thick but you can’t take it out!)
Add a couple of teaspoons of good quality vegetable stock and a couple of bay leaves if you have them.
Simmer for twenty minutes.
Remove the bay leaves and liquidise/blend.
If the soup is thicker than you want it just add some water. If it’s too thin I can’t help you because you obviously didn’t read my advice a few lines above.
Season to taste and serve with perhaps a swirl of cream for uber decadence and a snip of chives for..umm..a chive type flavour.
Eat with crusty bread that hasn’t stepped on a landmine.