Spiced Butternut and Carrot Soup with quick naan bread
It would appear that my posts about spring arriving were slightly premature. The weather seems to have taken a turn for the worst, with each day being more grey and miserable than the last. To bring a little colour and sunshine back into my week, I thought I’d cook this lightly spiced roasted butternut squash and carrot soup. To go with the ‘sunshine in a bowl’ soup, I decided to try my hand at making my own naan bread. This was partly because I felt trying something new and partly because I need to practice my kneading skills for my new job as a bakery intern, which I start in a few weeks time.
The soup was really straight forward and the naan bread I served it with was even easier to make. For some reason I’d never even thought of making my own naans, but these are so simple and so lovely that I don’t think I be having ready made ones ever again. Making your own also means that you can adapt the favourings to your own taste and what you’re serving it with. Poppy seeds, nigella seeds and chopped garlic and fresh coriander all work well as toppings.
For the soup
half an onion, cut in half again
quarter of a large butternut squash, seeds removed
one large carrot
half teaspoon of ground cinnamon
half a heaped teaspoon of ground cumin
quarter teaspoon of ground ginger
four cloves of garlic
500ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper
For the naan bread
125g or 4 and a half oz plain flour
teaspoon of sugar
quarter teaspoon of salt
quarter teaspoon of baking powder
55 – 65ml milk
tablespoon of olive oil plus extra for greasing
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan oven)/ 190°C/ gas mark 5/ 375 Fahrenheit
For the soup, chop the butternut and carrot into three centimetre or one inch cubes and place onto a baking tray with the roughly chopped onion. I didn’t bother with peeling my carrot or butternut squash, but feel free to peel them if you prefer.
Drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with the cinnamon, cumin and ginger and toss everything together. Roast in the oven for forty five minutes to an hour or until completely tender.
Whilst the vegetables are roasting, you can get prepared for making the naan bread. Sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl to thoroughly mix them and make a well in the centre. Mix together the milk and olive oil. I generally do this in the measuring jug I used to measure the milk to save on washing up.
When the roasted vegetables are almost cooked, tuck three cloves of garlic in amongst them and roast for a further fifteen to twenty minutes. Roasting the garlic cloves in their skins will make them really mellow but don’t be tempted to put them in at the beginning as they will burn and become bitter rather soft and sweet.
Meanwhile, pour the milk and oil mixture into the well in the centre of flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and move your hand in a circular motion to gradually incorporate the liquid into the dry ingredients. You should get a soft and smooth dough which on the moist side, similar to the sundried tomato and rosemary bread I made a few weeks ago, as the more moist your dough is now, the lighter your naan bread will be. Knead well by pulling apart the dough with you fingers to stretch it and by folding, pushing and rolling it over and over for about eight to ten minutes, flouring the dough if it’s too sticky to handle.
Once kneaded, place the naan bread dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, I happened to use one from my primary school days, and leave in a warm place for ten to fifteen minutes. The damp tea towel and the warm place provide a nice environment for the baking powder to react, which produces carbon dioxide which makes the bread to rise. Please note, the drawing of myself on the tea towel was done aged five. Using baking powder rather than yeast means that instead of taking more than an hour to prove, this naan bread is ready to shape in ten to fifteen minutes.
Once the vegetables are tender and have roasted completely, allow them to cool slightly and then place them, removing the roasted cloves of garlic beforehand, into a liquidiser and add half of the stock. Blend to a smooth puree and transfer to a saucepan.
Add the remaining stock to the liquidiser and blitz to catch any remnants of the puree and then pour this into you saucepan gradually, until you have the consistency you like. Feel free to add a little more water at this stage if you still find the soup a little too thick. You may want to blend the soup a few time, adding a little more stock or water each time to give a nice smooth texture. Season the soup and place into the saucepan on a low heat to keep warm whilst you finish making the naan bread.
Preheat the grill to medium and place a heavy baking tray on the upper shelf of the grill to heat up. This preheating will give you a nice crispness to outside of your naan bread.
Form the dough into large balls and roll out quite thinly. Push the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and break the cloves up with a fork. Spread this over the surface of the rolled dough and crush the last raw clove of garlic using a garlic press and sprinkle this over the top. To cook, place the naans onto the hot baking tray, drizzled with a little oil to prevent sticking, and grill for one to two minutes, or until lightly golden brown. You can finish off the naan breads by brushing them with a little melted butter for a more luxurious result.
Serve the soup in a couple of warm bowls, with the naan breads besides them, and dream of sunnier days.