As I enter my second year in Cambridge Massachusetts, I remain enthused by the newness of it all and yet there are times when pictures from American Cinema flash in my brain and give me that unsettling feeling of déjà vu. Halloween. Front yards that are crawling with giant spiders, ghouls and ghost, spindly skeletons, and pumpkins large and small.
At the beginning of October, squashes make their appearance in the shops; you’ll find them too on road side farms and children love to run around pumpkin patches. Several millions are sold for decorative purposes and sadly will never end on a plate; there are however numerous varieties which are delicious to eat and come in fantastic shapes and colours: orange, dark green, mottled orange, powder pink , white and bright yellow. If you like pumpkins, now is the time to stock up, peel, chop and freeze or roast and cook. Some have a skin so thick that they will last a few months placed in cool place.
I infused olive oil with paprika and coriander to add a bit of oomph while roasting the squash brought out its flavours. This does mean it takes more time, but it is definetly worth the wait. Plan on a quiet evening at home.
- 650 cooked squash
- 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds
- 1 teaspoon corn flour
For the paprika and coriander oil:
- 1 teaspoon dried coriander seeds, coarsely ground
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Place a pan over the lowest fire and gently heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Do not allow it to sizzle. Turn off the heat, mix in the coriander and paprika, and leave to infuse.
- Cut the butternut squash in half; leave the skin on but remove the seeds and stringy pulp.
- Place both cut sides down on a baking sheet and bake in a hot oven at 180°C for 30 minutes, until the squash is soft. Remove from the oven, cover with a tea towel, and leave to cool.
- When it is cool enough to handle, peal the squash and cut it into chunks.
- Heat oil in pan, and sauté the onion for 5 to 6 minutes on medium to low heat until soft and translucent. To avoid the mixture from drying and browning, keep the pan covered, stirring from time to time.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute before you incorporate the squash. Season with salt to taste, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika.
- Cover with 1 litre of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and leave on a simmer for 20 minutes until the squash chunks are so soft then you can cut through them with a spoon.
- Let the soup cool for 15 minutes.
- Dilute corn flour with a little cold water and mix it into the soup.
- With a blender, purée the mixture until creamy and smooth. Return to the pot, and cook on low to medium heat for another 10 minutes.
- Serve in individual bowls. Drizzle with coriander oil and top with pumpkin seeds.