Watch: beat the winter blues with this butternut squash soup
This sweet, savoury and gently spiced soup is a hug in a bowl, writes Janine Kennedy.

It's officially cold in Tipperary. It happened overnight – the blustery but mild weather we’d been having for the last week or so of October gave way to a bitter cold. I’ve been living in my slippers and piling on jumpers, but I can’t shake the chill.

Being Canadian, I am used to the cold. In the winter the temperature gets as low as -20°C. But our houses are warm. So are our boots and jackets. And it’s a dry cold, so it doesn’t get down into your bones the same way the damp, bitter Irish winds do. So, during Irish winter (which, I have to admit, is mercifully short compared to Canadian ones) I am one of those perpetually cold individuals.

I naturally gravitate to warming, spiced foods at this time of year. Curries, casseroles and stews are the dinners of choice, but they can be time consuming to prepare. This soup uses few ingredients and comes together really quickly. It’s great with a crisp, gooey cheese toastie, light salad or slice of quice and keeps in the fridge for up to four days.

I’ll make a pot and have it for a quick lunch during the work week. I love maple syrup and it works especially well with a mild curry spice blend, and, in this soup, adds to the natural sweetness of the squash.

Maple curry butternut squash soup

Serves six

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

1 large onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp mild curry powder

1 chili, finely chopped (optional)

1l vegetable or chicken stock

1-2 tbsp maple syrup, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

90ml cream, creme fraiche or evaporated milk

Croutons, rapeseed oil, maple syrup, creme fraiche and coriander, for garnish.

  • 1 Place a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the oil and finely chopped onion. Gently fry the onion for five to eight minutes, until soft and slightly browned. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional one to two minutes.
  • 2 Add the butternut squash and continue frying for another five minutes. Add the curry powder and mix well to coat all the vegetables, then add the vegetable stock.
  • 3 Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and gently simmer the soup for 30-40 minutes, until the butternut squash is cooked through and the stock has reduced by around one third.
  • 4 Blend the soup – either by hand or in a blender – until completely smooth and velvety in texture. Return the blended soup to the saucepan and cook gently for another few minutes, stirring often.
  • 5 Season with the maple syrup, salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Stir in desired amount of cream, creme fraiche or evaporated milk.
  • 6 Serve hot, garnished with a drizzle of maple syrup, croutons and a dollop of creme fraiche.