I do love a heart warming bowl of soup seasoned with warm spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, tastes festive like Christmas in a cold winter night. I know everyone has at least one winter squash soup recipe up their sleeves, but this one I made is a little different from the others – with a subtle umami flavour. The addition of dashi stock and miso paste which not only gives the soup another layer of flavour but also balances out the sweetness of butternut and chestnut. You can of course replace dashi stock with water or vegetable stock if you want to make it vegetarian.
If you don’t have the time to roast the butternut squash, you can skip the roasting bit and just peel and chop the squash and add to the onion fennel mixture and pour enough stock to just cover the vegetables. I love the nutty and intense flavour of the squash after roasting though, so give it a try if you have some spare times in hand. But I have done the non-roasted version as well, and it tastes also delicious.
- 1 butternut squash (about 1.5 kg whole), halved lengthwise
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- a few turns of freshly ground black pepper
- a few sprigs of fresh sage
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 1/2 fennel bulb (or 1 stalk celery), finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 200g cooked chestnut, divided (120g for the soup, 80g roughly chopped for the topping)
- 2 bay leaves
- pinch of salt
- 550ml Dashi or vegetable stock, divided
- 1 tsp. tamari (or soy sauce) or to taste
- 1 tsp. white miso paste
- olive oil
Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. Season the squash with cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and place one sage leaf on each half. Then place the butternut squash cut side down on a baking sheet lined with backing parchment. Bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes depends on the size of the squash. Once cooked, remove the seeds and the stringy membranes, and then scoop out the flesh of the squash and set aside.
To prepare the soup. Warm a tbsp. of olive oil in a medium soup pan, sautéed chopped onion, carrot, fennel (or celery) and pinch of salt on medium low heat for about 7 minutes or until the vegetables are starting to soften. Add the bay leaves and a small sprig of sage. Pour in 400ml of the stock, cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add the 120g cooked chestnut into the soup, cover and return to simmer for another 10 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, prepare the topping. Warm 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a pan and fry a few sage leaves until crispy and turns slightly brown. Remove from the pan and set on a plate lined with kitchen papers. In the same pan with the same oil, fry the chopped chestnut until it takes on a nice brown edges. Transfer it to a little serving bowl and set aide.
Transfer the squash to the soup and remove from heat, use a immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth (you can add a little stock to help the pureeing process). Now gradually add in the remaining stock until it reaches a smooth and silky consistence (add a little more water if it is still too thick).
Return the soup pan to medium heat (be careful not to let it boil as the soup will bubble up and it is scorching hot!) and add the tamari and miso paste. Have a taste and add more tamari if needed.
To serve, ladle the soup in warm bowls and top with fried chestnut, crispy sage and a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.