Butternut squash and saffron soup
Photograph: Quentin Bacon
Butternut squash is one of my favourite vegetables: it’s sweet, tasty, and filling with barely any calories or fat. The soup is extremely rich despite containing not a drop of cream — kind of unbelievable, because the texture is so creamy. If you are trying to lose or maintain weight, this recipe is a keeper.
Serves: 8 to 10
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour
1⁄4 cup (60ml) olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large leek, white part only, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks
5 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄4–inch chunks
5 celery ribs, cut into 1⁄4-inch pieces
1⁄4 cup (50g) sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 fresh rosemary sprig
Pinch of saffron threads
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Don’t be afraid to let the edges turn a deep brown — this will give the soup an even better flavor.
Add the leek and garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes.
Add the squash, carrots and celery. Place a lid on the pot and cook for 20 minutes.
Add 10 cups (2.4l) of water, the sugar, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and saffron.
Stir to combine ingredients and bring to a boil.
Photo: Quentin Bacon
Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are so soft you can press down on them with a spoon, about 30 minutes.
Allow the soup to cool for 10 minutes then purée the soup directly in the pot using an immersion blender. If you don’t have one, allow your soup to cool completely, then purée in small batches in a blender.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, then transfer the soup to another pot and reheat slowly before serving.
Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls and add a dollop of Greek yogurt on top and a generous sprinkling of za’atar.
Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love by Einat Admony (Artisan Books, £20.99).