roasted butternut squash soup with zhough and crispy chickpeas

roasted butternut squash soup with zhough and crispy chickpeas
 
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We all need a little help to get us through these dark, cold and grey days. And in our opinion there is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of bright, spicy and warming soup. Full of heady flavours and aromas, let this transport you to that beach, and envelop you in a big warm embrace.

Roasting the butternut and sweet potato may seem a bit extreme, but the oven really does bring the best out of a lot of vegetables, it's our favourite way to cook most roots.

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ingredients.

1 head of garlic
2 onions
olive oil
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 3 cm pieces
300 g sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 3 cm pieces
400 ml coconut milk
300 ml vegetable stock
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp of turmeric
2 kaffir lime leaves (fresh or frozen - can be found in most asian specialty stores)
1 red birds eye chilli (finely chopped, seeds and all) 
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

For the crispy chickpeas: 
100 g canned chickpeas (drained weight) 
oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste

For the zhough:
1 bunch of coriander leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch parsley (leaves only), roughly chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 fresh jalapeno, roughly chopped (with seeds)
juice of half a lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

steps.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan). Cut the top off the garlic and onions, rub with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap separately in tin foil. Evenly distribute the butternut and sweet potato on a baking tray and combine with 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper.

2. Roast the vegetables on the middle rack of the oven for around 30-35 minutes until slightly browned and soft, but not crispy.

3. While the vegetables are roasting, make the zhough and crispy chickpeas. For the chickpeas: drain and thoroughly pat dry. Add enough oil to a frying pan to evenly cover the base. Once the oil is smoking, add the chickpeas and fry until crisp. Set aside on some kitchen paper to cool.

4. For the zhough:  Blend all ingredients using a food processor or a stick blender, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to serve. 

5. Remove the vegetables from the oven once they have reached the desired consistency. Add 1 tbsp of oil to a heavy-bottomed pot. With the heat low, add the kaffir lime leaves, cardamom, turmeric and chilli. Cook gently until fragrant. Add the vegetables, removing the skin from the onion and garlic and fry for around 5 mins.  

5. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring to the boil, allow to simmer for a few minutes, then take off the heat. Remove the kaffir lime leaves and use a stick blender to blitz smooth, adding water as you go until you've reached your preferred soup consistency.

6.  Return the soup to the heat and bring to a simmer. Add the lime juice, and adjust seasoning, then divide into bowls and top with the zhough, crispy chickpeas and some chopped chilli (if you're after even more spice!). Delicious with some toasted pita!