There's been a wierd fog around for the last few days. It rolls up the channel amoothering the sunshine and forcing the temperature to plummet. It is like autumn giving the last of our summer sunshine a sharp shove and reminding us it's just around the corner. As we walk to the vegetable stall in the morning our flip flops get sodden with the cold dew and we have to talk them off and brave the damp muddy pathways. The stall is at its best at this time of year. The summer vegetables I've missed for myself are still there. Ripe fat tomatoes, cucumbers as long as a ruler, bunches of bright green basil and shiny purple aubergines of all different sizes. But now there is the autumn crop as well. The jars of strawberry jam have appeared for us to stock up on and green and orange squashes.
Yesterday we did our changeovers at the B&B and still had two hours before our guests arrived on the boat. So I made an autumny soup with the leftover Kabochasquash in the fridge and we sat on the patio watching the fog roll in....
Roasted kabocha squash and nduja soup with herby crumbs.......(serves 3-4)
1/2 a kabocha squash (about 14oz/455g)
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
a tsp chopped fresh chilli
11/2 pints of chicken/vegetable stock
3oz nduja sausage
4tbsp herby crumbs (see below recipe)
Preheat the oven to 200'c. Peel, deseed and chop the squash into rough pieces (not too small). Drizzle with oil and pop into the oven for about 30-45 mins until you push a knife through with no resistance. Put to one side.
In a large pan add a little oil and add the finely shopped onion and garlic on a medium heat. Allow to cook for about 5-7 minutes although don't let it brown. Add the squash and the stock. Let it simmer for 5 minutes then add the chopped chilli. (I do this right at the end so you still get a nice kick of chilli.)
Put the crumbs in a baking dish and pop into the oven for 5-10 minutes to crisp and brown.
Blitz with a hand blender carefully until smooth. Add more of less stock if you like it thinner or thicker. Season with salt.
In a small pan add the nduja and a tbsp of olive oil and fry (mixing while you do) until you almost have a thick nduja dressing. Ladle the soup into a bowl and spoon the nduja and warm herby crumbs over the top.
I use these a lot for stuffings for roast dinner and for stuffing mushrooms and they are a great way of using up stale bread.. They are also great on gratins and vegetable bakes so I keep a big bag in my freezer.
1 small loaf of white bread
4 handfuls of herbs. (At the moment I am using parsley, fennel, sage, savoury, thyme and chives)
Rip up the bread into a food processor and blitz with the crumbs. Store in the freezer in a carrier bag.