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A seasonal Butternut squash soup

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Butternut, Red Pepper & Garlic Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

800g Butternut squash – peeled & cubed into 1nch squares

3 large red peppers – deseeded & cut into half

1 large red onion sliced

1 large bulb of garlic sliced through the middle to roast

1 red bullet chilli or equivalent (noting too hot) roughly sliced

2 sticks Cinnamon bark

5 bay leaves

5 leaves of sage

1 small bulb Fennel – core removed & sliced

2 tbsp Olive oil for cooking

For the stock

3 stalks of celery – finely chopped

4 sage leaves

5 bay leaves

½ small white onion finely chopped

1 large carrot cut into 1inch large slices

1 tsp mustard powder or English mustard

1 litre of hot water

25g butter

1 tsp of salt flakes (Maldon or equivalent) or to salt to taste

Cooking Instructions

In a large pan, melt the butter then add the bay leaves, sage, celery, carrots, onion and cook gently for 10 minutes without colouring but softening the ingredients. Then add the hot water and mustard bring to boil, drop the heat right down, place the lid on the pan and allow the stock to gently simmer for 40 minutes
Meanwhile place the oil in a warm baking tray, add the vegetables; butternut, peppers skins side up sliced red onion, garlic, chilli, cinnamon bark, bay leaves, sage, and fennel. Toss in the oil and roast at 180 º for 25 minutes or until the butternut is cooked and soft to press.
When cooked remove from the oven, allow to cool a little before removing the skin from the red peppers, discard the bay leaves, squeeze the garlic out of the shell and discard the shells, remove the cinnamon sticks and 3 of the 5 sage leaves.
Return to the stock and strain the liquid into a jug and reserve.
Empty the soup into a saucepan and stir in the stock slowly to achieve the right consistency of soup. Add the salt at this point to season. If there is any stock left just keep it in the fridge for other use.
If the soup needs heating then return to the heat for just a few minutes to bring back up the temperature.
Serve with some fresh crusty bread – enjoy
Cooks tip 1: Replace the butternut squash with baby vine tomatoes for a delicious season tomato soup.

Medicinal value of Butternut Squash

Butternut squash contains a range of anti-oxidants and vitamins and like red cabbage it is also a low calorie vegetable, containing just 45 calories per 100g. Squash is high in fibre and phyto-nutrients, and it’s a common vegetable recommended by dieticians in the lowering of cholesterol and weight.

It has great quantities of vitamin A 100g provides about 354% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining healthy skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good eye-sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help the body protected against lung and oral cavity cancers.

Butternut squash has plenty of flavonoid compounds and is rich in B-complex vitamins like folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.

Wait for it – The seeds of the squash are also high in fibre & mono-unsaturated fatty acids, good for the heart. In addition, they are rich in protein, minerals, and numerous health-benefiting vitamins. The seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid, tryptophan. Tryptophan is good for the brain.

Recipe and article written by Kumud Gandhi – Writer and broadcaster – founder of The Cooking Academy

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