Saturday 1 September 2018

Squash and Tomato soup

Many years ago, on a holiday in Kenya, we had a soup that was so delicious it has stuck in my memory ever since. It's a really simple soup: tomatoes, squash or pumpkin and chicken stock are the main ingredients. Since I have recently harvested some little "Uchiki Kuri" squashes, I though this soup would be a fitting way to try out the first of them.

I'm going to present my soup recipe in a photo-tutorial fashion. Few words, lots of pictures.

First, take one small squash (or a part of a bigger one). Mine weighed about 800g. Cut it in half (may require a BIG knife!) and scoop out the seeds.

Cut the halves again, so that you have quarters now, place them in a roasting-dish and massage each piece with a splash of good oil. Season with freshly-ground black pepper.

Roast the squash in the oven, at 180C for about half an hour, or until it is tender - a knife penetrates easily. Ideally, the flesh should be a little bit blackened at the edges.

After the squash has cooled for a few minutes, scrape the flesh from the skin, using a spoon.

Reserve the flesh in a suitable bowl and discard the skin. (Yes, I know it is edible, but it's not needed for this particular recipe.)

Meanwhile, choose about 1kg of nice ripe tomatoes. (Not all of these!)

Remove the stalks and any tough cores, and chop the tomatoes very roughly. Put them in a roasting-dish with a chopped onion.

Roast the tomatoes in the oven at 180C for about 45 - 60 mins, depending on the ripeness of your tomatoes. When they are ready, the tomatoes and onions will be very soft and will have slight blackening at the edges.

Allow the tomatoes to cool for a few minutes, then pass them through a "Mouli-legumes" like the one in my next photo, or a passata-maker. If you have neither of these, use a coarse sieve. You need to make sure that the tomato seeds and most of the skins are excluded.

You will end up with about a litre of "passata" - tomato juice and pulp.

Next, peel and chop another onion and soften it for a few minutes in a large pan over a low heat, making sure it doesn't take on any colour. When they are nearly done, add a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and cook for another minute or two, stirring occasionally.

When the onions are ready (soft and translucent, but not brown), add the squash flesh to the pan.

Add the tomato pulp / juice.

Add about 500ml of good (preferably homemade) chicken stock.

Stir well. Bring the mixture to the boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool a little. Decant all or part of it into a food-processor (depending on the size of your food-processor's goblet, it may not all fit at once.). Zuzz it up for about 30 seconds or so, or until the soup reaches the consistency you like. We like this soup to be fairly smooth, but with still a bit of texture to it.

You can eat the soup straight away, or you can store it for later use. This batch made enough for four servings, so I put it into two plastic containers - one to be used at lunch the following day, and one to be frozen for some other time.

When the time comes, all that is left to do is tip the soup into a saucepan and warm it gently until it comes back to the boil. Then it's ready to eat. Enjoy!

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