Spiced Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Cumin Oil

The natural sweetness of butternut squash lends itself to pairing beautifully with a little bit of spice. In this recipe we use ras el hanout and chili to add some depth to the soup and finish with a toasted pumpkin and cumin oil for textural contrast and little pockets of flavour.


Preparation time20minutes

Cooking time 30 minutes

Serves 2-3 people

INGREDIENTS 1 whole butternut squash 1-2 medium sized carrots 1 onion 1 stalk spring garlic 1 tablespoon yellow ras el hanout Half teaspoon dried chili 50g pumpkin seeds  1 tablespoon cumin seeds EQUIPMENT Chopping board and knife Medium sized pot Blender, immersion blender or food processor (optional) Rubber spatula or wooden spoon Baking tray lined with baking paper Small bowl


METHOD

1. Begin by preparing your ingredients, Peel the butternut squash by chopping off the stalk end and the base end and running a knife along the edges to remove the peel. Remove the seeds using a tablespoon to scoop them out. Chop the butternut squash into thin slices. Peel and thinly slice the carrot, onion and spring garlic.

The seeds can be cleaned and separated from the orange flesh of the squash and lightly baked in an oven set to 180C by lightly rubbing in oil and salt and cooking for half an hour or until crisp. 

If you do not plan on pureeing the soup, it can be enjoyed as a chunkier broth, however in that case do not thinly slice all the vegetables but rather dice into bite-sized pieces. 

2.  Place a pot over medium high heat and add a generous lug of olive oil, once it is hot, add the butternut squash to the pan along with a generous pinch of salt. Coat in the oil and allow to colour lightly by not moving them. Add the remainder of the vegetables and coat in the hot oil and cook for 5 minutes. 

3. Add the ras el hanout and chilli flakes and coat the vegetables well. Top up with 1 liter of water and bring the contents of the pot up to a boil. (If you do not want a pureed soup, cook the vegetables at a gentler simmer until the vegetables are tender).


4. While the soup cooks, preheat an oven to 160C and on a baking tray lined with baking paper add the pumpkin seeds, cumin seeds and lightly season with a few drops of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake for 15 minutes and once toasted, pour directly into a small bowl. Top up with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the heat from the toasted cumin and pumpkin seeds will infuse the oil with flavour. For a more intense infusion either heat the bowl up quickly in the microwave for 30 seconds or warm the oil gently in a pan over the stove until it is hot. Remove and allow it to infuse at room temperature.

5. To check if the vegetables are cooked, remove a piece of carrot from the pot and place onto a plate. If you can easily crush the carrot with the back of a spoon, the vegetables are tender enough to puree. For a chunkier broth, allow the vegetables to just cook through till they are tender. 

6. Place the contents of the pot into a blender or food processor or blend directly into the pot if you have an immersion blender. Blend until the soup is smooth, roughly 5 minutes. Add more water, if necessary, to achieve your preferred consistency. Pass through a fine meshed strainer if you want your soup to be as small as possible. 

7. To serve, pour into warm bowls and garnish with the toasted cumin and pumpkin seed oil. 


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