Look, I’m not going to lie to you, I overindulged massively during my birthday weekend. You might, of course, assert that it is my right to do so, but I really went to town. I started each day with a large and luxurious breakfast and ended it with several nightcaps; I downed cocktails at Hawksmoor, feasted on seafood and wine at J Sheekey and ate a ridiculous amount of cake. By the end of it, I was drunk, full and starting to suspect that this is how people end up with gout. My jeans being a little tight has always been a small price to pay for my love of food, but the threat of having to invest in a whole new wardrobe because I am unable to control myself is insane.
My problem is good, old-fashioned guilt; for I am both the kind of person who cannot resist what is in front of them, but also the kind of person who feels bad about it the next day. This means that I generally veer between two extremes: ordering everything on the menu one minute and being incredibly cautious the next. I get the sense that such an admission would drive most people to shout at their screens, but you can chill, I know that one does not undo the other. During my struggles with balance, a little healthy eating after a blowout just makes me feel better.
Very often, this involves eating a lot of soup, the most nourishing and comforting of all foods. In the colder six months of the year, from September to March, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen making soup. You know enough about my love of pumpkin and winter squashes to guess that they make up the majority of them. The beauty of soup is that it is a great way to use up odds and ends that you have hanging around the fridge, not to mention the Parmesan rinds I hoard and ends of the packets of lentils I seem to collect. Very occasionally, I will use an actual recipe and, when I do, I often turn to this one. The combination of squash, apples, curry and cider is as autumnal as piles of brown leaves in the park and those pumpkin spice lattes everybody becomes obsessed with at this time of year. As unbecoming as it is to big up one’s own food, if you only make one soup this winter, it should be this one.
Even if you aren’t, like me, trying to undo the damage of several days of overindulgence, it is still worth adding this soup to your autumn repertoire. A good seeded or spelt bread lightly toasted with butter is the perfect companion. Extra autumn points if you can find a blanket to eat it under.
Butternut Squash, Curry and Cider Soup
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp ground nutmeg
300ml dry cider
1l vegetable stock
Sea salt and white pepper
Heat the oil in your largest saucepan and add the butternut squash, apples and onion. Stir to coat in the oil and cook for 10-12 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the curry powder and nutmeg and cook for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the cider and bring to the boil. Cook for three minutes before pouring in the vegetable stock. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the squash is tender.
Remove from the heat and blend using a hand blender. Once smooth, return to the heat and add the sea salt and white pepper to taste. Cook on a medium low heat for a further five minutes.
Ladle into individual bowls and top with a swirl of cream.
Adapted from a recipe by Orangette.
Soup recipes from More than Just Toast:
Coconut, curry and red lentil soup