Sunday, October 14, 2007

Soup for a Winter's Night

I don't talk about my time in Liverpool that much. It was an interesting year of my life. I was in a weird state then. Emotions shifted between being melancholic that I didn't have any friends or family around me while being in this cold and lonely place to being sublimely happy that I was living with and sharing a life with the man of my dreams.

I used to stare out of our window a lot during those days. I remember it being so cold outside. No snow yet, I don't think, but the wind was howling, and I would see through the window the lights of our neighbors. Rafa was probably working nights then, and I remember feeling so cuddled, so snuggled in by the warmth coming through the radiator just below the window. The weather was so cold outside, but there I was inside, the loneliest girl in Liverpool, listening to Sarah McLachlan's 'Song for a Winter's Night' and feeling every emotion this amazing singer was trying to evoke through those beautiful words.

For some reason this song makes me think of soup, or is it vice versa? Butternut squash soup to be exact. I LOVE butternut squash soup. I eat it, and instantly I'm transported back to those wintry days.

I recently ate a lovely soup at Pret a Manger in the city. I was actually quite surprised how good it was because most butternut squash soups tend to be quite bland. I even had a small packet of salt at the ready before I ate Pret's soup. Let me tell you, it was fantastic. Just the right amount of spices and consistency. On the website, they advertise it as a butternut squash and apple soup. Not being able to find a soup recipe that had all the combinations of flavors I wanted, I decided to make my own.

Soup for a Winter's Night

500g (20 oz.) butternut squash chunks
2 granny smith apples (or sweeter apples if you wish), peeled, cored and chopped - about 125g/4 oz. each
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
4 cups (1 liter) chicken stock
1/2 cup (125ml) apple cider/unsweetened apple juice
3 tbsp heavy (double) cream

Melt the butter in the oil in a large soup pot over a gentle heat. Raise the heat slightly and add the chopped onion. Sprinkle over some sea salt, the spices and sage. Lower the heat and with the lid on, sweat the onions for about ten minutes until they are soft and fragrant with the spices.

Add the chopped butternut squash and apples with the honey. Mix on a medium heat for five minutes. Add the hot stock and apple juice. Bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Taste the soup for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer soup to a blender (if it has a 1 1/2 liter / 48 oz. capacity, it should all fit) and with the center nozzle taken off, put a paper towel on top followed by a tea towel (to protect the tea towel from getting dirty). Puree briefly. Add the heavy (double) cream and puree again to desired consistency.

Return the soup to the pan to warm through before serving. Add seasoning to taste.

The soup was really delicious! It could have been a tad bit sweeter and perhaps a bit thicker. Next time, I would use this blueprint but add a bit more butternut squash and use sweeter apples. I hoped that the honey and apple juice would offset the Granny Smith's tartness, as that was the only apple I had at home, but it was a bit too on the tart side for me soup-wise.

I have many more months of cool Fall and winter breezes, so this certainly won't be the last time I will be making this soup. Please give it a go if you're in the mood for some warmth as well. The great news is that it is only 4 WW points for a generous 12oz. (375ml) serving. And making this soup is a lot cheaper than buying it outside... Believe me!


Gemma said...

That sounds delicious, I've been enjoying my butternut squash recently as well.

Gemma x

Anonymous said...

That looks and sounds wonderful Ilana. Thanks for sharing the recipe, yum

George xx