Sunday, December 8, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup with Sumac and Coriander Seed – good thinking, sunshine!

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I had been looking to try out the jar of sumac that I’d found recently. While I searched for divine inspiration, a ray of sunshine obligingly blazed through the window and lit up a butternut squash that had been lingering in the vegetable basket for the past few weeks. Good thinking, sunshine! This creamy, filling and surprisingly healthy soup is the result. It tastes even better the next day. Alchemy at work!

For 6-8 bowls of sunshine, you will need...
1.5kg butternut squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sumac*
1 teaspoon coriander seed, finely crushed
½ teaspoon salt 

a further 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick of celery, peeled of stringy fibres and finely chopped
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
1.25 litres chicken stock or vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley 

I love the aroma released when the coriander seeds are crushed
- definitely worth the slight effort it takes.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C

Using a sharp knife cut the butternut squash into quarters. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Rub the quarters with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place in a shallow roasting tray, skin side down. Sprinkle evenly with the sumac, coriander seed and salt. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 50 minutes or until tender. Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then, scoop out the tender flesh. Discard the skin. 

Roasted sunshine!

Meanwhile, heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and cook gently without colouring until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for a further minute then add the roasted flesh from the butternut squash, followed by the stock. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Liquidize the contents of the saucepan – a stick blender is perfect for this. Taste before adding salt and black pepper according to your own taste. 

Sprinkle with the chopped parsley before serving.  

*Used in Middle Eastern and some Mediterranean cuisine, sumac is a berry that is usually sold dried and crushed to a coarse powder. If you can’t find sumac, a ½ teaspoon of grated lemon zest works well as a substitute in this soup.
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