The falling snow sent me into a bit of a comfort food frenzy yesterday, and after the cookies and rock cakes I decided to be a bit more virtuous and make soup. My favourite is ‘my’ cream of butternut squash soup. It sounds like it should be a nightmare for any allergy sufferers – the words cream, butter and nut usually make us nervous, but don’t panic. Even though it looks so creamy and tastes nutty and buttery – it is totally safe – just vegetables. It is one of the easiest things I have ever made. It is also quite impressive, in looks as well as taste, something about the super smooth velvet finish once it is blended makes it look professionally made. My mother, who doesn’t even really like soup, regularly requests it and has told me it was better than the one she had in a restaurant recently. Thanks Mum.
It is also versatile because if you make it a bit on the thick side (more squash and less stock) you can use it as a delicious pasta sauce or as a puree you can wean a baby on. I recently saved a portion for my six month old nephew and he loved it. As a soup it is a heavenly and healthy lunch or starter. Perfect for a snowy day like today. It must be so nutritious too. There is no junk in it and I am pretty sure it is high in vitamin A.
I first made it in my pre-dairy free days and followed a Delia recipe. She added milk to hers and stirred some cheese through at the end. It was delicious, but I can honestly say I don’t miss the milk and can live without the cheese. Zac definitely gets his sensitivity to dairy from me. I am not as severe as him, milk always made me heave but I miss cheese, however I know it is best avoided for health and weight control. As they say nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, so with that thought/dream in my head I can forgo the cheese.
So this recipe is something of a simplification of the (several) squash soups on her site www.deliaonline.com
One large white onion
2 small sticks of celery
600g butternut squash (today I had a bag of pre-chopped butternut squash and sweet potato – worked perfectly well)
1 ½ litres of marigold swiss bouillon (a gluten free vegetable stock)
I usually buy pre-prepared butternut squash. It is easier to work with than a whole squash. Whatever you choose, you need about at least 500g and you need to cube it. Finely chop the onion and leeks too. Gently soften them in a splash of olive oil (not extra virgin – too fruity) and a splash of vegetable oil or sunflower oil – or whatever you like to use that can cook at a higher temperature than olive oil, but is not a strong tasting oil. Once the onion and leeks are soft, add the finely chopped celery and carrot. Soften them for a few minutes and then add the chopped up squash. This time I bought a bag of squash mixed with sweet potato. Very delicious and even more colourful.
Once all the vegetables are nicely softened, season with a little salt and black pepper and then add the stock. Stir. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer until all the squash is falling apart and the soup is golden. Should take about forty minutes. Keep stirring and checking. Season to your taste. It should definitely be ready after an hour. Turn off the heat and let it cool before you blend it. A hand blender works well and so does an enclosed one. Whatever you have the end result will be the same, a beautifully smooth, creamy-looking and tasting soup that is totally safe for any dairy free, gluten free folk like us. Must be relatively low calorie and fat too.
For most people soup needs some crusty bread dipped in and I agree. In my opinion most of the shop bought gluten free breads are pretty hopeless and only good for making croutons – perhaps not so bad with this recipe. But Zac’s favourite addition to this meal is one of the Dietary Specials ciabatta rolls, heated in the oven. Give it a try. You could be forgiven for forgetting that this is a totally dairy free, gluten free, nut free meal. In fact, I think you could serve it at a dinner party for ‘normal’ people and no-one would ever know. Enjoy.