Thursday 25 June 2015

Curried butternut squash soup

Curried butternut squash soup - with a splash of red pepper vinegar

I've eschewed spices since the start; not because I dislike them, no, no, no, but because if that's the food you want there are many other cooks far more informed and accomplished than me. I am having a bit of a love affair with freshly ground coriander I confess but I didn't grow up with a sense of spice. I barely grew up. I wouldn't know where to start with your asafoetida. Spice is a world apart; too complex a palette for me to approach. I feel like a child slapping painty hands onto paper while sitting next to the brushstroke brilliance of Monet.

But this recipe uses curry powder. Yeah, I said it. CURRY POWDER. And yes, I am protesting too much. My inner hoity-toity does get a bit up itself when a recipe calls for that. It's like saying 'now add ketchup' but chefs often use it (and ketchup), even the many starred dandies. By all means roast and grind your own exquisite mix. I'll even take some off your hands if you have spare.

A Vitamix all of my own
I'm always looking for interesting amuse bouche ideas and this is where I will be pressing the squash into action, right at the front of the meal. A small, intense, smooth mouthfeel of flavour. Yielding about two litres, this recipe will amuse many bouches but will also feed eight people properly. I was about to make a serving suggestion - the usual crusty bread blah blur blum - but it's soup. You know how to eat soup yeah? This recipe is based on Marcello Tully's. It is very straightforward and cheap to make. You will need a blender though. Ah, now. Did I mention I got myself one of these? An Ebay bag, selling in Winchmore Hill. One of those putrchases you wish you made decade ago instead of faffing around with cheap shit. It's a Vitamix 5200, a design that's remained unchanged since the 50s. And yes, expensive but very worth it. Its output isn't measured in watts but in horsepower. This baby will blend bones!

Dice two white onions and gently sweat in a large pan for five minutes. When soft, add a level tablespoon of curry powder and two teaspoons of turmeric. Fry for another five minutes.

Peel, deseed and dice one large squash, about a kilo, and add to the pan. Cover this with water, about one and a half litres. Bring to the boil then leave to blip for 45 minutes. Leave the pan uncovered to allow the water to reduce. You're looking for this: very soft squash. Allow to cool.

Chunky before the blend
Pour the whole lot into a blender. You may need to do this in batches. Blend until very smooth. Strain through a sieve. Stir in 450ml of double cream and season with salt, white pepper and sugar to taste. You could even consider a dusting of garam masala.

Jason goes all Jackson P