Autumn is here in her golden gown and the scorching heatwave of summer is but a distant memory. I’ve chosen a seasonal recipe, pumpkin soup, but used butternut squash as it is more readily available, easier to prepare and has the same delicious flavour.
The soup also uses many of the botanicals found in Burleigh’s Richard III Gin, and a good glug of the spirit itself! To make the soup spooky I’ve topped it with skull-shaped croutons. You can buy a small skull cutter online easily, but cubed or round croutons are just as good.
Burleigh’s Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Spooky Croutons
Cut the squash in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and place the squash halves, cut side up, in a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil. Into the hollow of each half place a clove of garlic, 3 sage leaves, a sprig of thyme, 2 cloves and 3 juniper berries. Scatter the orange zest on top.
Pop the squash into a hot oven (180C/160C fan/Gas4) for 30-40 minutes, until the squash has begun to caramelise around the edges.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then remove any ‘woody’ bits of herbs and spices (cloves, thyme stalks) and skin the squash. Pop the squash and the remaining herbs, spices and any cooking liquor into a food processor and process until smooth, adding the stock slowly.
Pour the soup into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer, adding the mace, coriander and Szechuan pepper. Add salt to taste. If the soup is too thick, slacken off with a little water or stock. Take off the heat and add the gin.
For the croutons, cut out little skull shapes, pop in a bowl and toss in olive oil, salt and pepper.
Spread out on a baking sheet and brown in a hot oven (180C/160C fan/Gas4) for 8-10 minutes until golden and crispy. Do keep a close eye on the croutons as they can go from golden to burnt in a matter of seconds! Serve the soup in warmed bowls, topped off with spooky croutons.
For the soup:
1 large butternut squash
Olive oil, to drizzle
2 cloves garlic, peeled
6 fresh sage leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
6 juniper berries, crushed
Grated zest of an orange
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
¼ tsp ground mace
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground Szechuan pepper
Salt, to taste
4tbsp Burleigh’s Richard III Gin
For the croutons:
A few slices of day-old bread
Salt and freshly ground black pepper