Here’s a wonderfully comforting soup, brightened with fresh ginger and chilli, to lift your spirits and warm the cockles of your heart.
It’s also fabulously easy and takes no more than 20 minutes ‘active’ time.
Winter soups can sometimes lean a little close towards cloying, but this strikes a very delicious balance between thick and comforting and bright and spicy. It’s also vegetarian and vegan, gluten and dairy-free.
To a large extent it is a “That’ll Do” soup, in that precise measurements don’t really matter, so let me bestow upon you the freedom to chuck in what you have to hand: keep the chilli seeds in for fiery spice, add more ginger/garlic to taste, etc.
Spiced Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes
2tbs vegetable oil
3 red chillies
3 cloves of garlic
8cm bulb of fresh ginger – 3-4 thumb-sized pieces.
2 tbs vegetable bouillon
- Cut the butternut squash and sweet potatoes in half lengthways and place on a lined baking sheet, cut side up.
- Put the baking sheet in the oven and turn the heat to 200C, 180C Fan. BONUS: while they bake, the oven will smell like cake.
- Bake for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- When cooled, scoop the seeds from the squash and discard. Scoop the flesh of both into a bowl. Discard the skins.
- Peel and chop the onions and garlic. De-seed (or don’t) the chillies and chop. Chop the ginger (peel if you like, but I don’t).
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped vegetables. Cook gently over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked squash/sweet potato and the bouillon.
- Add water to cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Use a stick blender to blend the soup smooth.
- For best results, puree the soup in batches in a liquidiser. Blitz each batch for two minutes. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
- To store: ladle into suitable containers and freeze.
- To serve: Heat through gently. Taste & adjust seasoning.
As I believe I’ve mentioned before, I tend to get side-tracked a lot when browsing the internet, and the inspiration for this week’s recipe is the result of just such a wandering.
Apple and cheese is a classic combination, and together with some smoked ham is one of my favourite toasted sandwiches. But that’s another story. In Yorkshire, it is traditional for Wensleydale cheese to be served alongside slices of apple pie, and a saying dating back over 250 years tells us
‘An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.’
An alternative to serving cheese alongside, is to bake it into the pastry, where it rounds out the flavour of the apple deliciously, without being obvious.
The recipe today pushes this a little bit further by adding green chillies to the apple mixture, and is an adaptation of one served at Chile Pies and Ice Cream, in San Francisco.
Although I found several versions of the pie online, after baking it as per the original, I decided that it needed tinkering with (sorry Chile Pies and Ice Cream!) and the results are below. I was unable to find the roasted chillies specified in the original recipe (Confession: I didn’t even look), so I went with fresh chillies and de-seeded them, which I found gave a real freshness and just enough of a hint of heat without swamping everything. Adding the zest of the lemon as well as the juice really brings out the apple flavour and I’ve reduced the amount of spices, which I found too strong in the original. Even with almost double the original amount of cheese in the pastry, the flavour is not too much, so if you want to go really cheesy, maybe add some grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, and as always, the dry mustard powder really rounds out the flavour. The walnuts in the crumble tended to burn very easily, so I swapped them for oats which I love for their nutty crunchiness.
Bramley Apples are fabulous for this recipe. For anyone who is unlucky enough not to be familiar with them, they are a specialist cooking apple grown in the UK. When cooked, they hold their shape until touched, whereupon the apple pieces dissolve into a froth of apple snow, literally melting in the mouth (if that is possible with hot food). If you’re unable to find any Bramley Apples, use a sharp dessert apple such as Braeburn, which will hold its shape and not release too much juice – which means you might want to reduce/omit the cornflour in the filling. Also, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C, 160°C Fan and cook a little longer.
Green Chilli Apple Crumble Pie
50g unsalted butter
80g strong, tasty cheddar
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
ice water to mix
35g brown sugar
100g caster sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
zest & juice of ½ a lemon
2 Bramley Apples
2 green chillis
20g light Muscovado sugar
60g plain flour
Pinch of salt
40g steel rolled oats
- Cheese Pastry
- Put the lard, butter and flour into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Roughly chop the cheese and add to the mixture.
- Pulse 3 or 4 times to break up the cheese.
- Slowly add the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together in a ball.
- Tip out the pastry and knead a few times until smooth.
- Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove from the fridge and roll out to about 5mm.
- Grease two 20cm loose-bottomed tart tins and line with the pastry. Alternatively, make individual tarts.
- Mix the sugars, cornflour and spices in a bowl and set aside.
- Grate in the lemon zest and stir.
- Peel and de-seed the chillis and chop finely.
- Peel, core and chop the apples into small slices.
- Put the chopped apples into a bowl and toss in the lemon juice.
- Scatter over the chillis.
- Sprinkle the sugar and spice mixture over the apples and chillis and stir gently to combine.
- Divide the filling between the tarts.
- Put the butter, lard, sugar and flour into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Tip the mixture into a bowl and stir in the oats.
- Sprinkle over the apple fillings.
- To Bake
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180ºC Fan.
- Put the tart tins onto a baking sheet, preferably one with a raised edge, as there might be some overflowing of juices.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the baking sheet around 180 degrees and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. For individual tarts, begin baking the same way, but cook for just 10 minutes after turning the baking sheet.
- Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.
- Serve warm with pouring cream