Shaftesbury’s farmers’ market was in town this last weekend, with some wonderful cheese, meat and fish produce and a new bakery stall, from where I bought a delicious granary spelt sourdough loaf. It was delicious torn into chunks and dunked into some freshly made soup. And soup is the perfect dish to be making now as we slip into autumn, hence this month’s recipe.
Just outside the town hall was a stall laden with corn, leeks, kale, berries and squash. Wonderful squash of around eight varieties, all sizes and shapes. I had to take half a dozen, although that’s a lot of squash for one person to consume. Fortunately, the winter varieties have thick, tough shells that protect that lovely sweet, rich and colourful flesh inside, making them excellent storage vegatables. I bought some hard bulbous squashes, as well as the small softer skin variety like acorn squash. Until the rise in popularity of butternut squash, pumpkins were the most popular squash on our shop shelves, but I really cant abide pumpkin - pappy and tasteless (just a personal view!) This had put me off cooking with any type of squash for years. Nowadays, farm shops sell all sorts of wrinkled, multi-colured, ribbed and striped specimens. The uglier they are, the better they seem to taste, I just wish I was more successful at growing them. My neighbour is very successful. She gave me a spaghetti squash a couple of weeks ago and it is exactly as the name implies, you can fork out the flesh in long strands and serve in place of rice or pasta, especially good if smothered in a fresh tomato sauce. Great for those gluten free guests, but you rarely see spaghetti squash for sale.
At my niece’s wedding earlier this month I served roasted butternut squash (skin on) that I had drizzled with homemeade chilli oil and scattered with toasted seeds and nuts (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, nigella seeds and almonds). These wedges of golden glory, were accompanied by chunky homemade humous and basil leaves. I was serving this in place of the hog roast for our vegetarian guests. It flew off the buffet table faster than anything else and I was left wondering why I hadnt cooked more and done away with the ‘pig’.
We have Halloween and Guy Fawkes night approaching so a warming squash soup would seem in order, but I have decided to do something different. I love cauliflower, especially with Thai flavours and I think it will be the perfect for bonfire night. I made this recipe first when I knew I had a couple of ‘curry-head’ neighbours popping round, so used them as guinea pigs. I made it too spicy - it was still a good soup but you couldn’t taste the cauliflower. I have refined the american recipe and now, third time in the making, I think it’s fabulous. As I write (it’s early morning) I know I am only a matter of feet from a tub of this wonderful soup. Unconvenitional breakfast, but I am tempted. I hope you enjoy it too, served at any event, season or time of day.
Red Thai Curry Cauliflower Soup (Substitute squash if preferred)
Serves 6. Approx. £0.85p pp when all ingredients purchased in Ludwell
1 ½ tbs vegetable oil
1 medium white onion - finely diced
1 celery stick - finely diced
2 tsp fresh ginger - grated or chopped very finely
1-3 tsp red Thai curry paste (Recommend one tsp only if you want to taste the Cauliflower)
1 tin coconut milk (14 oz) - Reduced fat is fine, just thinner
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs fresh lime juice
550ml Chicken or vegetable stock
4 tsp cornflour
1 medium cauliflower, cut into small soup-spoon sized florets
3 tbs chopped fresh coriander leaves
(if making this with squash rather than cauliflower, dice the squash quite small and allow an extra few minutes to cook at stage six below.)
1. Heat the oil in a pan set over a medium heat
2. Add the onion, celery and ginger and cook gently for 5-6 minutes
3. Add the curry paste to the pan and cook for 2 minutes more, keeping the onion mix moving
4. Mix a little of the stock with the cornflour to make a thin paste
5. Add the coconut milk, brown sugar, lime juice, stock and cornflour mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer, stirring often
6. Add the cauliflower florets, return to a simmer for five minutes more, or until the cauliflower is tender
7. Blend, blitz or mash approx two thirds of the soup and return to the pan
8. Stir in the chopped coriander leaves, season (salt only) and serve
If you are serving this in mugs without soup-spoons, blitz all the soup together. Pieces of vegetable are great in a soup if you are eating it with a spoon, but otherwise, not practical.
I know I always say these recipes are the best, but this one really is a truly, truly scrumptious dish.
These musings and recipes are gleaned from The Donhead Digest with the permission of AIF, their author.