There is nothing like a hot pumpkin soup to really put you in the mood for embracing the autumn, the cold days and the long evenings. I was never much of an autumn/winter person, I love to feel the sun on my skin and the long long days but during the past few years this is starting to change slowly. I mean, I still love summer more than autumn but at least now, I can appreciate autumn’s charms as well. And one of autumn’s serious charms are the pumpkins. You can buy them most of the time nowadays, but I actually never do buy them except in the autumn and winter months. This way they remain special to me, they are not just something to eat, they manage to create an entire atmosphere.
And soup remains the best thing you could do to a pumpkin or butternut squash. I love everything else as well: casseroles, pasta, sauces, salads etc, everything made with pumpkin or squash tastes awesome to me, but soup is the best. The simplicity of it, the creaminess, the amazing taste, the coziness, all these and many other things work together to create a perfect dish.
I’ve been making and loving my usual Hokkaido ginger soup for years now, but last week I decided to try a new version. The procedure is, of course, similar, but the spices differ and that makes the soup different. And the main reason to try the new soup was the topping: feta cheese marinated with herbs and olive oil. Love, love, love! I am a big fan of really good feta cheese, I love its saltiness and creaminess and how it makes just about any dish better, so this was a must-try for me. I hope you try it too, I am sure you would like it.
I made the soup with butternut squash but it will be just as delicious when made with Hokkaido or another flavorsome pumpkin sort. Use freshly squeezed clementine or orange juice and please, please take the real feta, the one made of sheep or goat milk, it is so much creamier and tastier than cow’s milk wannabe.
- 1 small butternut squash, about 650 g/23 oz weighed after peeling and removing the seeds
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1,2 liter/ 5 cups good vegetable broth
- 120 ml/ ½ cup freshly squeezed clementine or orange juice
- 100 g/ 3.5 oz feta cheese
- 5 thyme sprigs, divided
- 2 thin scallions
- freshly ground black pepper
- Halve the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cut the halves into 2 or 3 larger pieces. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel. Cut the squash into cubes.
- Finely chop the onion and the garlic cloves.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and cook the butternut squash cubes and the onions for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute or two. Add the vegetable broth, the clementine juice and 2 of the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil, cover and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes or until the squash cubes are soft.
- In the meantime, cut the feta cheese into small cubes and the scallions into fine rings. Place both in a small bowl and add the remaining olive oil and the finely chopped leaves of the remaining thyme. Mix very carefully and add some pepper. Leave to marinate until the soup is ready.
- Remove the thyme sprigs from the soup and blend the soup. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper. Serve with some of the marinated feta on top.