- 1 butternutsquash, about 1kg
- 2 tbsp of amaretto
- 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1/2 nutmeg
- 6 shallots
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 tsp of butter
- 500ml of chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tsp of flaked almonds
- 4 tsp of labneh, yoghurt or cream
- 4 amaretti biscuits
- 1 tbsp of finely chopped parsley
- Black pepper
- Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Find a roasting tin, ideally one you can set on the hob, to save on the washing up.
- If you’re using a whole squash, a) you’re brilliant, dedicated and much more capable than me, and b) use a big knife to peel it, because a peeler won’t take off enough of the white pithy stuff just under the skin. You want it to be that nice orangey colour, not muted – you’ll understand once you start peeling. De-seed it; chop the squash into chunks (biggish is fine) and put in the tin. Drizzle with the amaretto and one tablespoon of the olive oil, then grind over lots of black pepper and finely grate in the nutmeg. Turn it all about with your hands, so that everything is nicely coated. Either ask a friend with clean hands to take the tin from you and put it in the hot oven, or you can go and wash your hands and do it – but it’s easier with a friend.
- The squash will take about 35–45 minutes to roast, depending on how small you chopped it. This gives you plenty of time to finely chop the shallots, garlic and celery.
- After 35 minutes, fetch your squash from the oven and pierce it with a fork; it should be soft and tender. If not, don’t worry: just give it another 10 minutes, then check it again.
- When the squash is cooked, sit the tin with everything in it over a low heat. (If you don’t have a roasting tin that will go on the hob, you can transfer the lot to a heavy-based saucepan for this bit.) Add the butter and the rest of the olive oil (the oil stops the butter from scorching), along with the shallots, garlic and celery. Cook, giving it a stir now and then, for about 20 minutes or until everything is soft. Turn off the heat.
- Have your stock made up in a jug at the side, still hot. Take your hand blender, and blitz everything in the tin. Very slowly, drizzle in the stock – this stops it from splashing or going lumpy – and keep blitzing until smooth. Taste for salt and add some if you think it needs it, and perhaps another quick grating of nutmeg and a twist of pepper. Turn the heat back on (lowest-possible) and let the soup simmer gently, while you toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, shaking the pan until they turn a deep gold.
- Ladle into bowls and swirl through the labneh, yoghurt or cream. Scatter over the almonds and the crumbled amaretti, and the parsley, for a pop of green, then serve. Curl up; enjoy.
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