Happy new year, reader! May it be a great one, filled with warmth and happiness. As temperatures seem to be sliding downwards and we no longer have Christmas as a focal point to look forward to, I find myself turning more and more to food for comfort. I crave warmth, but also freshness after all the richly indulgent stodginess of Christmas. And so, I turn to spices. Punchy ginger; fiery chilli; soft, mellow garlic. They give such a lift to earthy winter produce, as well as helping to combat the ever-lurking sniffles at this time of year!
This recipe is all of those things, as well as being very easy to make – perfect for a lazy weekend. The charred sweetcorn topping only takes a minute to make and works so well to add an extra layer of texture and oomph, so don’t skip it!
Ingredients (serves 6):
1 large butternut squash (skin left on), deseeded and cut into chunks
1 heaped tsp ground turmeric
1 large onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 large leek, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme (or 2 sprigs fresh, leaves picked)
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
½ red chilli, sliced
500ml vegetable stock
200g tin sweetcorn, drained
1 tsp ancho chilli flakes
Chilli oil, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C and put the squash in a large roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season well and toss with the turmeric. Roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until soft and golden, and the skin can be pierced easily with a knife.
2. Meanwhile, heat a splash of oil in a large saucepan over a low-medium heat. Add the onion, celery and leek and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, until beginning to caramelise. Stir in the thyme, garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for 2 more minutes.
3. Add the roasted squash to the pan, then pour in the stock along with 750ml boiling water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken slightly. Remove from the heat, then use a hand blender to blitz the soup until smooth. Season to taste, and add a splash more water if you prefer a thinner soup. Return to a low heat to heat through.
4. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Add the corn and fry for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until popping and beginning to char. Transfer to a bowl and stir through the chilli flakes.
5. Spoon the soup into bowls. Drizzle with a little chilli oil, then top with a spoonful of the charred chilli corn to serve.