Edit: I started this post in October, but then life happened and it wasn't until December that I revisited it.
Autumn in Ireland can’t really be described as autumn… It’s more of an amateur winter. With several days of rain at a time often accompanied by wind, it undermines the Instragram worthy aesthetic of changing trees and fallen leaves. Yet despite this undesirable climate there remains that autumnal coziness, with woolly hats and scarves and getting in from the cold to a warm kitchen. So, what’s to eat in autumn? Soup! Fast forward two months to when I'm actually finishing this post - soup is also great in winter.
It might come as a surprise but soup and I don’t have a long history; in fact, I hated it as a kid (well I thought I did). A few years ago when I was ill and decided to buy a soup tin from the supermarket, my relationship with soup was not meant to be. I fear that this unfortunate experience deterred me more. Then I was introduced to a broccoli and dill soup that transformed my perceptions of how good soup could be. I think the deciding factor was it being homemade, perhaps?
This soup combines sweet potato, carrot and butternut squash - all seasonal root vegetables readily available in any supermarket. You can also buy a bag of prepared sweet potato and butternut squash soup mix... but where's the fun in that? Making your own is so much better. I also think that pumpkin would be a great addition or substitute in this soup, but admittedly pumpkin isn't really something we eat in Ireland... It usually appears in supermarkets around October for Halloween, and as far as I'm aware most people just throw out the inside to make way for the candles. The only time I've ever eaten pumpkin was when I was in the United States.
Sweet potato on the other hand, is quite possibly my favourite vegetable of all time. Okay that's a lie. It is without a doubt my favourite vegetable of all time. There is always a bag in my kitchen and I've about a million different recipes to make the most of it, quiche, latkes, gnocchi and we certainly can't forget sweet potato kuge or sweet potato risotto! Even when I know I have a bag I'll still buy another one knowing full well it won't be long until I need it. If I could, I'd write an entire cookbook dedicated to sweet potato (so if any publishers or those with contacts are reading... hit me up).
But onto the soup....
You quite literally only need one carrot, one sweet potato and one butternut squash to make it, although I'd recommend using chunky ones.
1 sweet potato
1 butternut squash
Seasoning (paprika, cayenne)
Splash of red wine
2 tbsp Coconut cream
First things first: peel and chop your carrot, sweet potato and butternut squash. When cubed, transfer to a baking tray and coat in olive oil before adding your seasoning - salt, paprika, cayenne (and anything else you may desire!) Pop the baking tray into the oven for about 25 minutes.
When your vegetables are done in the oven place them on a surface to cool down. During this time you should boil the kettle and add 500ml of water to one vegetable stock cube in a saucepan. Let it simmer for a few minutes, and then add your vegetables.
Bringing the pan to the boil, mix the vegetables about for a bit. (I added a bit more paprika seasoning at this point, but that's optional; I understand that the general person may not share my obsession with paprika.) Let the combination simmer for a little until you're happy with it.
The only thing left is to whip out your hand blender to whizz it all together. Now while you're whizzing, you may or not be tempted to top up with two additional ingredients: some red wine and coconut cream. A number of soup recipes call for cream, which I substituted for coconut cream making the recipe vegetarian and kosher. Furthermore if so inclined, a generous dollop of red wine makes a delicious accompaniment to this soup. Another whizz with the blender and you're all set.
There's something about this soup; the intersection of comfort and invigoration, with the amalgamation of spices and wine so you've the best of everything. When it's freezing outside and you're wrapped up on the sofa watching yet another episode of Gilmore Girls you'll be thanking me for this soup...