Winter is in full swing in the Southern Hemisphere. Days are shorter, we wake up to frozen gardens and by now, we've come to befriend the endless rain.
There is nothing more enjoyable for me in these season than being awake by the sound of drops hitting the roof early in the morning, when the skies are dark and I'm still drifting between dream and reality skillfully wrapped up in my duvet and giving a good use to those thigh high snowboarding socks from the bottom of my drawer, knowing I don't have to get up yet, that I can enjoy a few more minutes of peace and quiet... until the baby wakes of course.
The other morning I was thinking there is nothing that could beat this feeling on a wintery day but later, that same day I made a hearty squash soup, sweet, creamy and with a bit of a kick from the cumin seeds in it. One of those concoctions that warm not only your body but your spirit. Then I realized I can survive another New Zealand winter, as long as there is hot soup and easy mornings.
This soup combines courgette, butternut squash and pumpkin seeds - hence the trio-; it is naturally creamy and has an added nuttiness from the blended seeds.
The addition of the kale crisps give it not only a veggie boost but a surprisingly texture and if like me, you go heavy on the chilli flakes it might make you break a sweat.
I put them on the side so each person can either snack on them straight away or crush them and sprinkle on top of the soup.
You can also swap the kale chips with this roasted nori snacks if you are in a rush.
I make my own vegetable stock for this (really quick and welcoming to all sorts of veggies, including ends and skins) but by all means, use good quality packaged one.
For the soup
1/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium leek, sliced
1 medium shallot, sliced
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 green courgettes (zucchini), in 2 cm cubes
1/2 butternut squash, roasted in the oven
for 35 min or until soft with no skin
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 little coriander bunch
1.5 lt vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
For kale crisps
1 bunch curly kale
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Flaky salt to taste
Chilli flakes to taste
For the soup
Put oil in a medium size pot over medium heat and add cumin seeds. Toast, stirring constantly until fragrant, keeping an eye on them as they burn quickly. Add leek and shallot and sauté till soft and translucent, then add garlic and courgette. Stir for 2 minutes or so, you want to give it a little colour to develop more flavour . Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 8 minutes or till coriander is wilted down.
With the help of an immersion blender, puree the soup till creamy. I like it smooth but can live it a little chunky if you like.
Season and serve warm with kale crisps and crusty bread.
Preheat oven to 150C No Fan
Remove stalks from kale with the help of a knife and place the clean leaves in a medium size bowl. Add olive oil, chilli flakes and freshly ground pepper to taste and mix gently with your hands making sure all the leaves are lightly coated in oil. Arrange kale leaves on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 8- 10 minutes. The leaves are so thin that they will crisp up very quickly so make sure to check them before the time is up.
Drain excess oil in a bit of paper towel and sprinkle the flaky salt on top.
This crisps make excellent afternoon snacks too, plus kids love them.