Sugar and spice and all things festive and nice

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Starters

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This is a soup recipe which I saw in a Christmas magazine recently and have adapted to intensify the flavours. It is a thick soup which makes it suitable for winter and the spices make it feel very seasonal. This would be a nice soup as a starter at Christmas dinner and the apple chips are so versatile that they can be used in savoury or sweet dishes.

FESTIVE BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND APPLE SOUP

Ingredients:

5 braeburn apples, 3 chopped and 2 thinly sliced to make the apple chips
2 lemons
Large pinch of salt
50g butter
3 large onions, chopped
1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only, plus a little extra for decor
700ml vegetable stock
250ml apple cider or apple juice
1/4 tsp white pepper
3 tbsp creme fraiche

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For the apple chips:

  • Preheat the oven to 110 degrees celsius.
  • Take two apples and slice very thinly. This is easier using a mandolin but you can use a knife if you don’t have a mandolin. Just be prepared to have a little extra wastage as knives have a tendency to prefer making half moon slices! It certainly does take a little extra skill.
  • Coat the apple slices in the juice of one lemon and the salt. Leave for 10 minuets and then pat dry with a piece of kitchen roll.
  • Lay the apple slices on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  • Bake for 1 hour until golden, crisp and curled up at the edges.

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For the soup:

  • Melt the butter in a pot. Add the onions and allow to cook with the lid on until soft.
  • Mix the butternut squash and apple pieces with the ginger, nutmeg and thyme. Then add to the pot and cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Stir every so often to make sure that all of the pieces of squash and apple are exposed to the heat.
  • Pour in the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 40 minutes until the butternut squash is soft.
  • Allow to cool a little and then blitz using a blender or in a food processor.
  • Add the white pepper, remaining lemon juice and apple cider or juice.

To serve:

  • Spoon the soup into warm bowls.
  • Add a dollop of creme fraiche. To give this a chef-y vibe, drag the end of the spoon through the creme fraiche to create a neat curved line.
  • Top with some apple chips and then sprinkle with a few thyme leaves.

A definite winter warmer.

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The Author

I am a food lover with a passion for cooking and entertaining inspired by two very special grandmothers and a fabulous mum. I recently moved to London which has provided a plethora of new places, cultures and fascinations to stir up some underlying creativity. My hope is to share some cooking and entertaining ideas which I like and others seem to like too. I will also throw in the odd bit of Scottish flare to make sure I maintain my true braveheart roots. Hope you enjoy!

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