Butternut squash soup, with cheese and onion swirl buns
Combining two favourites for the first time, Dominic Franks serves up the perfect, warming meal for autumn.
I’ve made variations of both these things before but never together. There’s lots of squash and pumpkin around at the moment, it being the spooky season, and with the weather finally turning it’s nice to share a warming, velvety smooth dish for the whole family to enjoy.
I think squash and pumpkins can be a little bland, even the smaller, nuttier ones need a little perking up and roasting them is the best way to do this. It adds a depth of flavour that rounds off the dish in quite a sophisticated way, plus if you add a little dried chilli or fennel seeds you get another dimension in there too. I’ve roasted mine along with all the other vegetables as I think the medley of the addition of carrots, potatoes and onions works ever so well, particularly with them all getting that crispy, roasted attitude!
A dollop of Greek yoghurt will also twist the whole soup into another unexpected dimension but gives the whole soup a lovely, lighter lift.
• Start with the onions – in a large pan, heat the olive oil and butter and throw in the onions and the sugar and stir around until all the onions are coated, then turn the heat down and let them gently sweat and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid the onions sticking. After 30 min, add the fresh herbs and plenty of salt and pepper and stir in. Sauté for another 30 min, stirring every 10 min or so, until the onions are a dark golden brown and gloriously sticky and caramelised.
• Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, mustard powder and salt with the water/milk and stir together using a rubber spatula. Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead for 10 min until soft and elastic (this process can be done really easily in a stand mixer with a dough hook, for 15 min).
• Oil a large bowl, add the dough, cover tightly with cling film and set aside to prove for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size.
• Take a roasting tin – roughly 12in x 8in (or a cast iron, shallow casserole dish works really well) and oil it very generously and set aside.
• After your dough has had its first prove, liberally flour a large work surface and turn the dough out onto this. Using your oiled hands, spread the dough out to form a thin, rough rectangle, roughly 20 in x 12 in – the dough will be elastic and want to spring back but leave it for a few minutes and then go back to it and gently tease it larger – you can use a rolling pin but I prefer a gentle teasing by hand.
• Take your caramelised onion and tip it onto the dough rectangle and evenly spread it out covering the entire surface, then sprinkle on the grated cheese, followed by some more fresh herbs and salt and pepper.
• Carefully roll the long edge up the work surface, creating a long roll of dough and onions, then cut this into sections, each one roughly 3 inches wide and place these into your oiled roasting tin until it’s full. Cover the tin with oiled cling film and set aside to prove for 30 min and turn your oven on and set to 200C.
• After 30 min, remove the cling film and place the bread into the oven for 10 min on 200C and then a further 20 min on 180C – remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack.
• Make the soup by placing all the veg and herbs in a large roasting tin, drizzle generously with olive oil, season well and roast for at least 30 min or until the veg have started to soften and turn a little dark golden brown at the edges.
• Remove from oven and tip into a large pan, followed by the stock and let it simmer gently for 15 min, then turn off the heat and let it sit until cooled by half. Add the Greek yoghurt and blend until smooth.
• Eat and of course enjoy!
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