The weather has been cold, grey and dreary the last little while and I’m not going to lie… I’ve been loving every minute of it. I’ve been feeling under the weather for a few days now, and while my apetite is slowly returning, the only real things I’ve been craving as of late are hearty soups. You know the ones? The stick-to-your-ribs this-isn’t-really-soup-it’s-totally-a-meal versions? Well I recently tested out Jamie Oliver’s squash and chickpea soup recipe and it’s all sorts of delicious. It calls for a number of spices that I’ve never used in combination before, but I’m pleased to announce work perfectly alongside one another. It’s rich, it’s flavourful, it’s hearty, and it will be making its rounds in our kitchen over the next few months, I’m certain.
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes, seeds reserved
1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
1 Tbsp. chilli flakes
2 sticks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 large red onion, diced
6 cups chicken (or veggie) stock
800 g tinned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. sliced almonds
1/2 Tbsp. fennel seeds
1/2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1/2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
sea salt & cracked black pepper, to taste
zest of 2 lemons
a small handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Mix together the squash, cumin and chilli flakes - toss in a drizzle of olive oil - and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-40 minutes until squash is cooked through.
In the meantime, heat a very large saucepan over medium heat and add a splash of oil. Add the celery, garlic, parsley and onion and cook until softened (8 mins or so). When your squash is ready, toss it in, let it sweat for a few minutes and then add the stock. Bring the entire mixture to a boil and let it simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes. Next, add the chickpeas and let it simmer for another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, toss together the squash seeds, almond slices, fennel, sesame and poppy seeds in a little olive oil until they brown.
Season the soup well and, using a hand blender, blend for a few seconds to thicken (but still leave those delicious chunks!)
In a separate bowl, mix together the lemon zest, parsley leaves and mint leaves.
To serve, spoon harissa paste into the bottom of your bowls, divide the herb mixture amongst each bowl and ladle the soup on top. Stir once and then sprinkle with the toasted seeds. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil (the best quality you can get your hands on!)