The weekend before last was a long cycle kind of day. Also I was supposed to go and see a dear friend from NY in Oxford. So I had combined the two and decided to have a little ride through Oxfordshire.
I had been planning to visit a farm where I sometimes get my veg from. It was only 12 miles from Oxford so it wasn’t too big of a detour. That was I could visit the people that grow the amazing veg, have a gander around the farm and buy some stuff that are not always available when ordering veg boxes.
When I arrived, first I spent at least half an hour playing with the piglets that live on the farm… Then I went to the farm shop, in one of their barns. It was like autumn has moved into that place – those colours under early afternoon soft light… Then I slightly overreacted when I saw the wide range of squash they had, from Hokkaido squash to all sorts of pumpkins (trivia: pumpkins are a type of squash). The manager was evidently amused by my reaction. Before I knew it, I was explaining to her how much I love pumpkins and butternut squash especially, how my mom used to bake them, how you can cook them and why are they just so good for you, for the soil etc. Then I had realised everyone at the barn was listening to me… Apparently, I’ve got to say a lot about pumpkins.
Below are a few snaps from the weekend and of the soup I made next day. For this soup you can use whichever squash you prefer/ have available; butternut squash, pumpkin or Hokkaido pumpkin. It’s an autumn must, brilliant for your immune system. And just so comforting. 🙂 Enjoy!
p.s. I made some peanut butter at home that I used for this soup. It only takes 30 minutes or so, and you make it while roasting the pumpkins. The recipe is below and it applies to all nut butters.
- 1 large butternut squash
- (or a squash/ pumpkin of choice)
- 1 garlic head
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 cup coconut milk
- (reserve one tbsp if roasting pumpkin seeds)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 inch fresh ginger
- (peeled and grated crosswise)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 sprig fresh thyme (optional)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp olive oil for the garlic head
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- CRUNCHY PUMPKIN SEEDS
- Reserved pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp coconut milk
- 1 tsp ground almonds
- (or your flour of choice)
- sea salt to taste
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Olive oil for frying
- 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Halve your large pumpkin/ squash lengthwise, remove the seeds with a spoon and reserve them for frying/ topping. Place the halves on a baking tray, flat sides down. If you are serving the soup in pumpkin bowls, cut the tops off, spoon the seeds out and place them on the same baking tray, with the tops back on. Cut the top off the garlic head too pour a bit of olive oil in between the cloves and place it on the baking tray with the pumpkins. Bake for 45 minutes approx, until fork tender.
- 2. Remove from the oven and let them cool down for a few minutes. Spoon out the butternut/ pumpkin flesh and squeeze the garlic out from its clove skins into a food processor/ blender and add all other ingredients. Blend util completely smooth. Season to taste and add extra hot water if needed. Serve in a roasted pumpkin or in a bowl and top with roasted pumpkin seeds and some fresh thyme (if using).
- 3. ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS: In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp reserved coconut milk, ground almonds and reserved pumpkin seeds. Set aside. Heat a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and add the seeds slowly. Constantly stir them with a spatula until they start to pop and brown. Set aside, add salt and smoked paprika, toss the seeds and let them cool down on a piece of kitchen towel.
- 2-4 cups of raw peanuts
- 1-2 generous pinches sea salt
- 1 tsp agave nectar
- Roast the peanuts with salt for about 10-15 minutes at 150 degrees. Transfer them into a food processor. Run the processor at high speed for 10-15 minutes (depending on the strength of your gadget). Your peanut butter will go through stages, from powdery ground peanuts, over a dough-like mixture to a creamy, smooth and runny butter. You may need to stop the processor for a few times and scrape down the sides. No need to add any other oils or water, just let the processor to do its magic and the peanuts will release the goodness. Just be patient! 12 minutes may seem long with the food processor on. When smooth and ready, add some agave nectar if you like a bit of sweetness in your peanut butter, or add extra sea salt, or even some chopped peanuts if you prefer it crunchy. Et voila! It can last for a couple of weeks in the fridge, if stored in a glass jar.