Sunday, 31 August 2008

England's double winter.

South African cricketer Shaun Pollock commented this week that England was a nice place, it was just a shame about the double winter: one from October to March and then a milder one from April to September. He's so right.After yesterday's tease we're officially back in autumnal territory. How do I know this? We're eating soup and hot bread and the red wine is getting drunk considerably faster than the white. Boo. Nigel Slater even commented in his column today that he hasn't managed to eat a long lazy evening meal in his (beautiful) garden once this year. And as we all know Nigel Slater is the fount of all knowledge when it comes to the gardening, cooking and seasons malarkey.

So, as we moved towards another resounding cricket victory, the light failing, the rain threatening, and Sniff whinging I took to the kitchen with root vegetables and a blender. It's still August people! How is this allowed?

The result? A spicy butternut squash soup with still-warm malted bread and a hunk of cheese. Good hearty food, perfect for that late August evening meal (I hope you can feel the sarcasm dripping from that).

Nevertheless, lack-of-summer bitterness aside, it is a lovely soup and one that will disappear from the bowl quicker than a sunny day in Britain - and boy, that's fast!

Serve with a good brown bread and either a swirl of sour cream, a dash of chili sauce or plain with a piece of strong cheddar. I adapted the recipe from one D gave to me, mostly because I didn't quite have everything on hand.

Spicy squash soup - serves two, very generously!

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 jacket-sized potato, peeled and cubed
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds
3 small onions, chopped
1 pint vegetable stock
1 tsp hot chili powder (or to taste)
1 tsp smoked paprika (or to taste)

Place a good amount of oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and bring up to heat. Add the onions and fry until just softened, but not brown. Add the spices and fry for a minute to released the flavour. Add the veg and stir until it is completely coated and fry lightly for a minute. Then add the stock and bring to the boil (covered) for fifteen minutes, or until soft.

Allow to cool. Drain (retaining the liquid) and blend slightly with a third of the cooking liquid. Don't overdo it or it'll be too gluey. Add more liquid to get the consistency you like. Return to the heat to warm through, season to taste and then serve immediately.

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