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January Eats | Revitalising Soup

From Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage

When you think of Devon, you shouldn’t just consider its impressive countryside and stunning coastline, the pure pleasure of its high quality food and drink should naturally leap to mind too.

Devon’s rich arable land, luscious green pastures and dramatic coastal waters provide the necessities for an amazing variety of wonderful local produce. Fresh fish and seafood, meat from traditional Devon breeds such as Red Devon Cattle, perfect pies and pastries, and an impressive assortment of fruits and vegetables packed with all of the essential, fresh goodness we need at this time of year. A gloomy January evening is when you just want to hunker down and tuck into a great big bowl of comforting, nutritious food. With this in mind, here is our recipe of the month, celebrating local Devonshire ingredients from non-other than local chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Photo courtesy of River Cottage

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Squash & Cauliflower Soup

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients

1 small-medium cauliflower (about 700g)
About 600g squash, such as a small onion squash, or ½ large butternut or a chunk of Crown Prince
1 large onion or 5 spring onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
2 tbsp roughly chopped sage, plus a few finely ribboned leaves to finish
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 litre hot veg stock (see page 190 for home-made)
Sea salt and black pepper
Balsamic vinegar

Photo courtesy of The Sun

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6. Remove any very damaged or tough-looking leaves from the outside of the cauliflower and trim the very end of the stalk. Then roughly chop the rest of the cauliflower – stem, leaves and all – and put into a large roasting tray.

Peel and deseed the squash then cut into bite-sized chunks. Add these to the roasting tray with the onion, whole garlic cloves and chopped sage. Trickle over the oil, season with salt and pepper and stir well.

Roast for about 45 minutes until the vegetables are soft and nicely caramelised, stirring halfway through. Make sure there’s some good colour on the cauliflower especially – this adds to the flavour of the finished soup.

You now need to purée the soup with the hot veg stock. There’s a lot of veg here, so do this in two batches – blitz half the veg with half the stock in a blender until smooth then pour into a large saucepan and repeat with the rest of the veg and stock.

Once the two batches are reunited, you may want to add a touch of hot water to thin the soup a little. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed, and reheat if necessary.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, splash some balsamic on to each serving then add a little finely ribboned sage, ground pepper and a few grains of flaky sea salt.

From Devon’s River Cottage, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is one of the UK’s most popular chefs, famously known for cooking with locally produced and sourced foods. The River Cottage restaurant in Axminster is conveniently located near The Barn and is the perfect place for lunch or dinner.