The Nigella Diaries: Butternut and Pasta Soup

Can you believe that I haven’t posted a Nigella Diaries update since last July? No, me neither…and for new readers, don’t get too excited, this isn’t a blog about Nigella’s Diaries (if it were we’d be having an entirely different discussion); instead, it’s a personal challenge to cook and bake my way through Nigella’s How To Eat. For more posts in this series, click here.

Okay, that said, it’s onto Butternut and Pasta Soup.

Nigella says that this is a soup that she makes when it’s cold and she wants to cook something easy but with some distracting chopping involved. I’ve cooked it on a day when it’s far from cold outside; instead it’s about 31C and 80% humidity and I have dreadlocks in my hair – not that you need to know about that, of course.

I was, however also in need of something easy but with some distracting chopping involved, so Butternut and Pasta Soup it was.

At this point, I’ll confess that I’m not a massive fan of either pumpkin or pumpkin soup. I like pumpkin in risotto, in macaroni, as a filling for ravioli and I enjoy it roasted. I also don’t mind it in salads and scones. Boiled pumpkin and pumpkin mashed with potato, though, is another story – in fact, the latter still makes me gag (sorry Mum). As for pumpkin soup, I really enjoy it when it’s been spiced or curried or Thai-fied – as long as there are no pumpkin-y lumps.

So, in many ways, this one was a challenge for me – and not just because pumpkins are so far out of season that it was an issue sourcing one. 

Okay, to the recipe. I used a half a butternut squash which meant that everything needed to be doubled. The recipe below, though, serves 2. I couldn’t get ditalini (little tubes that are like super-small macaroni) so used risoni – which seemed to work well, but I think I would have preferred the mini-macs. Also, I blitzed the whole soup rather than just a few ladles – the lumps, you see – so it was more soupy and less stewy than Nigella’s version. That though, is your call.

As for the taste? Yeah, it’s nice. It’s like a big bowl of comfort – and that’s a good thing. The grated parmesan makes it less healthy than it otherwise would be but this is a perfect Sunday night supper-style soup – especially if you pair it with a cheese toastie – and one that I’d make again.

What you need…

  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ small onion diced finely
  • 250g butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 60ml white wine
  • 600ml stock – vegetable or chicken – Nigella uses a cube, I used the chicken stock I had in the freezer
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 60g ditalini or other soup pasta

What you do with it…

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion gently in it. You don’t want the onion to colour so take your time with this – about 10 minutes – stirring regularly.

Once the onion is soft, tip the pumpkin in and turn it about in the pan for a couple of minutes.

Add the wine, let it come to the boil and reduce slightly before adding the bay leaf and the stock. Bring to a simmer and let it bubble at this point for about 10-15 minutes.

Take out a ladleful (or more), blitz it and put it back in the pan. Turn up the heat and add the pasta. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until the pasta is cooked and you’re ready to serve. Do so with a grating of parmesan over the top.

Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

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