Pumpkin Month

Roasted Butternut & Tomato Soup With Rosemary

We always think of October as “pumpkin month” – time to search for just the right pumpkin to hollow out and turn into a Halloween lantern. The pale orange flesh can then be roasted, baked or pureed to provide a filling and satisfying base to any meal. Last year, we added some spices and vanilla to bake little pumpkin puddings.

Pumpkins are part of the squash family, which includes courgettes and marrows, and can also be referred to as gourds… confusing, no? So when we’re done with our Halloween pumpkin, we prefer eating butternut squash as it’s ridiculously tasty, easy to find after the 31st and much easier to break into.

This is our favourite transitional recipe for this time of year, as it combine the last of the summer’s tomatoes with autumn’s bulbous squashes. Everyone loves a tomato soup but as a main meal it needs bread to give it substance – we prefer to fill up on veggies, so butternut squash (or your lantern leftovers) provides the perfect blend for a thick smooth soup. The squash also helps to counteract the acidity that some find with tomato-heavy dishes and adds the sweetness that only usually comes with long slow cooking (or added sugar!). Cooking tomatoes also enhances their nutritional value by increasing their lycopene content – a powerful antioxidant. Out of tomato season, look for quality glass-jarred tomatoes or those in BPA-free cans.

To amp up the nutrition of any soup you’ll find us up to our usual tricks – where possible the liquid element comes from home-cooked bone broth. It offers a depth of flavour that cannot be bought and once combined with seasonal vegetables, makes soups an extraordinarily cheap food.

Broth, or stock made from bones, has been used throughout human history- a traditional remedy across cultures for the sick and weak .Think of the ubiquitous cure-all – chicken soup! And now we’re moving into colder weather it’s time to start practising this ancient and most basic cooking technique.

Through broth has fallen out of favour in our fast-paced lives, with a bit of planning you can have a stock pot simmering away on your stove on a day-to-day basis as we do. The quality of your bones is very important, so speak to your local butcher – they only cost a few pounds and in some cases are free. Since you are not shelling out on the more valued meat (FYI you receive protein via the broth) you can spend your money more wisely on the bones from a free range, antibiotic and hormone-free animal that ate what it should – cows are meant to eat grass not soy and grain!

The minerals from the bones are extracted during the cooking process and transferred to the broth. To get maximum minerals and goodness we like to boil the bones for up to 24 hours. We use this broth to cook up vegetables and quinoa and slip it into sauces, but the best way to get a load of this goodness in one hit is via a soup.

Some of our best-loved soups for Vogue so far are;   broccoli, ginger and bean soup, miso carrot, mexican squash, watercress soup and winter minestrone. We especially love this particular recipe because the vegetables are first roasted to intensify their rich, sweet flavours. This extra depth of flavour also means that you’re good to go even if you don’t have time to prepare a proper bone broth or if you don’t eat meat. Roasting also makes the process of extracting the squash from its skin a lot easier – peeling can be fiddly but chopping them down the middle and popping them in the oven means that we can simply scoop out the flesh from the skins when they are ready.

We’ve made this in bulk as it’s one the whole family will enjoy – if you have the freezer space then making a big batch of soup is the same effort as a smaller one so you can enjoy a ready-to-eat meal straight from your own freezer. Basil is the usual flavouring for tomato but as it’s hard to find fresh in autumn and tricky to grow yourself we’ve gone for mouth-watering rosemary instead. It grows like a weed, doesn’t mind our colder climates and thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, it’s a great herb to be getting inside of you at this time of year.

Ingredients

use organic ingredients where possible

serves 6 people

3kg of butternut squash (you can use different squash but make sure there is at least one butternut for sweetness)

16 medium tomatoes approx 1.2kg or 3 cans of BPA free tomatoes

1 bulb of garlic (you’ll only use 6 cloves – keep the rest for dressings and sauces

3 large white onions, roughly chopped into eighths

2 large sprigs of rosemary or to taste, pull the leaves off to give you 2 teaspoons of rosemary leaves or use 3 teaspoons of dried rosemary

2 tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil

1.5 litres of homemade beef or chicken stock – more or less depending on how thick you like your soups

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C
  2. Halve your squash and tomatoes and lay on one or two baking trays, flesh side up. Add the onions chunks and the garlic bulb.
  3. Remove after 30-45 minutes when the squash is tender.
  4. Gently heat the ghee in a saucepan and fry the rosemary for a few minutes. If you’re using tinned tomatoes, add them now and let the tomato sauce simmer for 20 minutes before the next step.
  5. Add the roasted veg – the onions, tomatoes and any juices. Scoop out the squash flesh and squeeze 6 cloves of garlic out of their skins.
  6. Cover with stock, starting with just over 1 litre, turn up the heat and bring to a medium simmer, lid on for 20 minutes to let the flavours combine. Add more stock if needed.
  7. Blend until smooth and season to taste.
  8. Drizzle each bowl with extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil and add a few parmesan shavings and a few fresh rosemary leaves.
A recipe from Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley, of HemsleyandHemsley.com.

Photo credit: Nick Hopper

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