Butternut Squash & Cauliflower Soup With Rosemary – Whip It UP!
By Evonne Lyn Lee
Planning Christmas dinner parties? This soup made with butternut squash is paired with cauliflower instead of potato. The result is a lighter yet lusciously creamy, lip-smacking starter. For flourish, a drizzle of truffle oil just before serving pumps up the flavour. Be prepared for guests asking for seconds.
Total time: 2½ hours
Serves: 10-12 persons
A: Chicken Stock
2 chicken carcasses, skin removed
1 medium carrot, cut into 3cm rounds
2 ribs celery, cut into 5cm lengths
2 medium onions, peeled, whole
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 dried red chilli, optional
B: Roasting Squash & Cauliflower
1.2 kg butternut squash
2 big onions, peeled
1 head of garlic, skin on, cut horizontally and separated into segments
3 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
C: Squash Crisps
100g squash, peeled and sliced thinly
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
D: For Garnish
Fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon cumin, whole, toasted
Red peppercorns, whole, optional
A drizzle of truffle olive oil, optional
1.Chicken stock: Boil 2 litres of water in a large saucepan at high heat. Put in carcasses and let it come back to a boil again. Drain and set carcasses aside. Discard water. This process is to remove scum from raw chicken to produce a clear soup stock.
2. Draw 3 litres of fresh water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Put in carcasses and remaining A ingredients. When it boils, reduce heat. Allow soup to simmer over low heat for 90 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 180celcius.
4. Squash crisps: Cut out a wedge of squash, about 100g. Using a vegetable peeler or a mandolin (not the musical instrument), slice squash thinly. Set remainder aside for roasting. Fry sliced squash in an air fryer or piping hot oil. If frying the conventional method, heat up oil in a medium saucepan until it begins to smoke – this is an indication that the oil is hot enough for frying. Add in sliced squash, a few pieces at a time. Do not overcrowd saucepan or they won’t brown well. Drain crisps on paper towels. Toss crisps in a combo of cumin and salt.
5. Cut cauliflower into florets. Slice onions thickly, separate each layer – you will get onion rings. Place both ingredients on a large enamel plate or tray. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and toss well. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil over them. Pour in 60ml (¼ cup) of chicken stock. Place tray into oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
6. Cut remaining squash, skin on, into wedges and then into large chunks (see photo). Discard seeds. Spread them onto a large tray lined with silicon baking sheet or parchment paper. Add in garlic segments. Sprinkle remaining salt (2 teaspoons) all over squash. Pour in 125ml (½ cup) of chicken stock. Toss in some fresh rosemary. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until squash is tender and slightly caramelised. Set it aside.
8. After 1.5 hours, turn heat off for chicken stock. Drain and discard solids.
9. To pulse vegetables: combine cauliflower, squash, onion rings, garlic (remove skin) and chicken stock in a food processor. Pulse to a fine texture.
10. Pour into serving bowls. Garnish with squash crisps and D ingredients. Serve immediately.
Buying Tips: Butternut squash is used in this recipe. This pear-shaped cultivar with thin skin has a dense, compact flesh in vibrant orange hues, an indication of its sweetness. It has an alluring butterscotch flavour. Tender when roasted, it produces a smooth and creamy puree making it ideal for soups. Other suitable cultivars include the large Australian blue pumpkins that are round with a flattened bottom. It has a greyish blue-green rind with thick, deep orange flesh; tastewise, it is very sweet and mildly fruity. Another good alternative is the Japanese squash, kabocha – it is also naturally sweet with a yellow-orange flesh, although drier, has a fine texture. It tastes buttery with nutty undertones.
TECHNIQUE: Roasting pumpkin until it starts to caramelise is a process where complex carbohydrates break down into simple sugars – this intensifies its natural sweetness. And as edges of pumpkin chunks turn toasty brown, the pumpkin flavour is deeper and rounder.
Photos: Evonne Lyn Lee
Evonne Lyn Lee co-authored Asian Pies with Sarah FC Lee. It’s a collection of 50 recipes of pies and tarts with an Asian twist. The book was awarded “Best Asian Cuisine Book in Singapore, 2016” by Gourmand International, which organises Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
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