Last night I left work late (curse of Thursday – we go to press with Saturday Times Weekend on a Thursday night, so rarely leave before 8pm) and I was feeling a bit rotten and in need of a soup hug. So it was a cornershop supper… I got my hands on a couple of squash, some coconut milk, coriander, and winged the rest – and it was superb. Bonus points for winter because it had garlic, turmeric and ginger, all of which boost the immune system. Here goes:
2 butternut squash
2 small red chillis (deseeded)
1.5 tsp cumin (ground)
0.5 tsp chilli flakes
0.5 tsp turmeric
Generous sprinkle of cinnamon (about 1/4 tsp)
3 inch piece ginger, peeled
2 x 400ml tins of coconut milk
400ml chicken stock (made with one of the Knorr jelly pots)
Small bunch coriander
4 garlic cloves
0.5 tsp fish sauce
Greek yoghurt, to serve
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Turn the oven on to 220C. Peel the squash, cut it in half, scoop out and discard the seeds. Chop the squash flesh into medium-sized chunks. Douse liberally in olive oil, sprinkle over the cumin, turmeric, chilli flakes and cinnamon, then get your hands in and toss it all in a massive baking tray. Chuck in the garlic cloves as is (i.e. without peeling, still whole and with skins on. They will go gorgeously sweet when roasted)
- Meanwhile, peel the ginger, make the stock etc. Do all the prep.
- When the squash is cooked (about 30 mins, but check after 15 mins), start building the soup. I made mine in a nutribullet which meant chucking in 1/4 of the squash mixture with a large dollop of coconut milk/stock, ginger, the garlic squeezed out of its skins… As you go, pour each whizzed section into a large pan – at this stage it doesn’t matter how you whizz it up, as it’s all about to be adjusted. Do not include the coriander, yoghurt or chilli in the whizzing, and don’t put in all the coconut milk or stock as you will want to do that later, to taste. Alternatively, if you have a food processor, just whack the squash, ginger, a bit of coconut milk, garlic (without skin) and then continue to the next step.
- When all the veg is whizzed, now you can start to fiddle with the amount of coconut milk, stock etc. Bring the thick whizzed veg/soup mixture to the boil in a large pan. Add most of the coconut milk and most of the stock, and taste. Add a hefty pinch of Maldon sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and the fish sauce (it might sound like an odd addition, but fish sauce is used to give depth in Thai cooking and is a gentler way of salting the soup). Stir well, and taste.
- Keep tickling the soup until it tastes how you like it. If you like it thinner, add some hot water or more stock.
- When it’s tasting good, chop the coriander, chop the red chilli and heat some bowls. Spoon the soup into the bowls, and top with a large spoonful of yoghurt, some chilli and some coriander. The remainder (if you can stop yourself eating it all in one) will be great as a leftover the next day.