January is grey and gloomy and miserable, and in our
house at least, calls for some comfort food. Soup may well be my favourite
comfort dish of all – the warmth and cosiness, the way you can cuddle up to
your bowl, the inevitable presence of bread, butter and cheese – and yet
because it’s stuffed with vegetables, you can feel smug about it being healthy
too. What’s not to like?
In this case, the vegetables are carrots, onions and
plenty of gorgeous, vibrantly orange butternut squash, combined with a big hit
of chilli (my favourite thing to put with sweeter vegetables like squash and
parsnips) and a big scoop of herby soft cheese melted through. For extra flavour, I’ve used my
own homemade chicken stock (if you’ve never tried making your own, I can’t
recommend it highly enough – get my recipe here) but you can of course
substitute a bought version, or use vegetable stock if you want to make this recipe vegetarian. The final result is the perfect antidote to the
1 butternut squash (about 1 kg)
60g herby soft cheese (such as Boursin)
Hot sauce, to taste (we like Encona's Original Hot Pepper Sauce)
Start by peeling and chopping the onion and carrot. Fry gently with the dried sage in a generous scoop of melted butter, until nice
and soft. In the meantime, peel and chop the butternut squash (carefully, as
the rind is very tough), and once the onion has softened up, add the squash and
the chicken stock. There should be just about enough chicken stock to cover the
vegetables – if not, top up with a little hot water. Bring to the boil, and
then cover and turn right down. Leave to simmer for half an hour.
When the time’s up, the squash should be tender enough to
fall apart when prodded. Use an immersion blender to puree all the ingredients
until you have a smooth, thick soup - if it seems too thick, or you want to make the soup go slightly further, then you can thin it down with a little hot water. Then season with salt and add a splash
of hot sauce, according to your own preferences for spiciness – by the way, you
can of course use fresh chillies, I just find hot sauce is a handy shortcut which helps me control the heat in a dish more accurately.
Finally, add the soft cheese and stir until melted. Serve in large bowlfuls
with plenty of bread and butter.