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This post was created in partnership with Appletiser. Bonfire Night is rapidly approaching. For me, any mention of Bonfire Night reminds me of the first school I’d attended as a child and the Bonfire Night tradition there. It was pretty much the only thing I loved about the school, but there would be a great big bonfire with a guy, steaming hot polystyrene cups of cream of tomato soup (still to this day the only tinned soup I both will eat and love!) and hot dogs. Then, my Dad would pull a couple of chocolate coated caramel bars out of his Barbour pocket to share; the caramel would shatter in the cold. That soup, those hot dogs (cheap catering bangers stuffed into white rolls with lots of tomato ketchup) and that rock solid caramel make up one of my first food memories.
This soup, served with shards of (almost) homemade garlic bread that I implore you to make up a big batch of on November 5th is slightly reminiscent of that cup of Cream of Tomato, but has another food memory tied in too. I wrote this recipe for Slow Roasted Tomato & Butternut Squash Soup during the last ever autumn harvest two years ago at my childhood home before my parents moved house. I was still living at home and Student Eatshad just been published; I was raring to go with creating new recipes and dishes. We grew industrial amounts of tomatoes every year, and that year you could fill several wheelbarrows with the amount of butternut squash that had been planted. The fresh thyme came from the garden, and the slightest hint of fennel in the background came from the seeds that were my spice obsession at the time (basically, I spend three weeks in every month thinking about cardamom, and during the other week someone else gets a look in!)
The garlic bread is bloody excellent for dunking, where the herby, garlicy butter can meld with the soup into one delicious mouthful. Using panini bread here just felt right, but you can use the buttery mixture to make garlic bread with any (preferably Italian) bread you choose. I don’t mind the hint of raw garlic, but if you want things a bit more mellow, grill / broil the garlic bread for a few minutes before serving.
I made this pot of soup up the other week when my boyfriend was suffering from man flu. Combined with a few healthy servings of my Mum’s Bolognese recipe I think it worked wonders, which is why it is also the perfect soup to put forward as this months instalment of my year long collaboration with Appletiser. Each month I’ve been sharing a brand new weeknight recipe that packs in at least one extra portion of fruit and veg into your diet (just like a nice cold Appletiser does!) and has no added sugar. I think this soup is the perfect pairing for a nice glass of Appletiser because the natural apple juice really helps bring out the sweetness of the squash, and the pretty green bottles on the table I think also make the green parsley flecked garlic bread look all that more tastier!
This delicious, autumnal tomato and butternut squash soup is served with homemade garlic bread shards for dunking. The garlic bread recipe is super versatile, and would be great served with my Stupidly Simple Lasagne and a green salad. Make this ahead as a weeknight wonder or as a project on a slow, lazy weekend morning.
For the Soup
1 kg (2.2 lb) Tomatoes, halved
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large White Onion, finely chopped
1 Large Carrot, finely chopped
2 Celery Sticks, finely chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
5–6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme, tied with string
500g (2.2lb) Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed
750ml (25 fl oz) Vegetable Stock
For the Garlic Bread
2–3 Panini Breads, split down the middle
50g Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 heaped tbsp Finely Chopped Parsley
1 Large Garlic Clove, crushed
Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees (300 fahrenheit). Spread the tomato halves, cut side up across a baking sheet and season well with salt and pepper, and lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Slow roast in the oven for an 1 hour and 30 minutes. Alternatively, if you use an AGA, roast on the base of the simmering oven for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, gently fry the onion, carrot and the celery in a generous glug of oil over a medium low heat until soft. You’ll want to do this in your largest saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for about 5 minutes more, then stir in the fennel seeds and the thyme bundle.
Add the butternut squash, the roasted tomatoes, the stock and plenty of seasoning and bring to the boil. Once it is boiling, bring the heat right down to low and simmer, uncovered for 40 minutes.
Fish out the thyme bundle and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Check the seasoning is to your liking, and place a lid on to keep warm while you make the garlic bread.
Toast the panini halves either in a toaster or cut side up under a hot grill / broiler.
Meanwhile, using a fork mash together the butter, crushed garlic clove, parsley and a generous pinch of sea salt. Slater this on the hot panini halves, and cut on the diagonal to create dunkable shards. Serve straight away with a hot bowl of soup and a nice, cold glass of Appletiser.
Yields four big, hearty bowlfuls, or six smaller ones.
I'm a food writer living in London and the English Countryside. Welcome to my online diary where I share easy, weeknight recipes, foodie travel diaries and some of the best places I've eaten out recently.
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