Not wishing to be lazy, there are times when I catch sight of a recipe that seems to sell itself far better than I could. Maybe I’ll still adjust the ingredients and instructions a little bit but when I think I’ve found a ‘gem’ such as Riverford Organic’s Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls, what’s the point? This is how Riverford describe their recipe:
“This easy-to-make squash soup doesn't even require any bowls – just eat it straight out of the shell, saving on the washing up and adding to the entertainment. This is a great, child-pleasing dish for Halloween.”
For the past two months my life situation has been extremely demanding so as far as this blog is concerned, I missed the boat for Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night too. Nevertheless, it did seem to be the perfect meal to cook for my family on 31st October whilst I was in the midst of frantically helping Mirror Imaging to pull together a high-class catwalk and prosecco party for brides-to-be. On the face of it, these Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls seemed to be a simple, speedy, autumnal treat that I was well up for making and sharing on Primal Plate’s blog without further input from me.
But not so fast. The devil is in the details and I rarely get away scot-free when writing up recipes for Primal Plate. Fifteen minutes into scraping out the pulp and seeds of my bonbon squashes “with a spoon” and still only halfway through the task in hand, I was thinking most of Primal Plate recipes are a lot easier to make than this! In reality, you need a pointy-ended, immovable (non-swivel) vegetable peeler, as well as a spoon, to neatly gouge out their innards. Also, a very sturdy, sharp knife to slice the tops off these tough-skinned babies - oh, and preferably a man with sufficient arm power to do the job!
When I finally got my squashes looking like perfectly formed soup bowls I discovered that the amount of double cream stated in the original recipe was far too much. Not that I think restraint is necessarily a virtue when it comes to eating healthy dietary fat, it’s simply that cutesy, individual portion-sized squashes don’t have a big enough ‘bowl’ space inside them to hold 200ml of cream apiece. A half to two-thirds of the that amount of cream is about right. Also, I prefer to strip the thyme leaves off their stems before burying them in the cream and cheese filling prior to cooking. Spooning woody bits straight into your mouth at the table is a bit of a spoiler. Whole sprigs of fresh thyme are best saved for prettying up Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls immediately before serving.
In the end it’s worth the effort for something so novel and delicious to eat. For me, scraping the rich, honey-flavoured, deep orange roasted flesh of the squash into hot, cheesy cream has all the satisfaction and pleasure of diving into a large baked potato with lashings of butter and cheese or perhaps a self-contained cheese fondue with no requirement for crusty bread.
Although winter squash could not be described as very low-carb, it is one of the most nutritious and healthiest vegetables you can eat. With a rich array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as significant amounts of digestive fibre, it’s surprisingly filling, far better for you and much less carb heavy than fattening potato or bread. That said, if you’re trying to get into nutritional ketosis, you may want to give this recipe a miss until you’ve achieved your goal. The fewer carbohydrates you eat, the bigger the effects on weight and blood sugar will be, so I recommend you follow a strict low-carb diet (“keto" diet) until you’re happy with your weight and health. Thereafter, you can be more liberal and are free to enjoy Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls as keto-friendly comfort food during the colder months that lie ahead.
Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls (serves 4)
4 small round squash e.g. bonbon, onion or kabocha (no more than 800-1000 grams unprepared weight is about right even if you’re hungry!)
200g Gruyère or similar i.e. mature vegetarian Cheddar, finely grated
200g organic Parmesan or vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, finely grated
A few gratings of organic nutmeg
2 tbsp fresh organic thyme leaves
500ml organic double cream
2 tbsp fresh organic thyme leaves
4 thyme sprigs to decorate - optional
Preheat oven to 190°C / 375℉ / Gas 5.
If any of the squash don’t sit upright on a flat surface, cautiously trim a tiny sliver off the bottom so that they do. N.B. Be very careful not to cut into the surrounding flesh as any holes in the bottom of the squash will allow the cream and cheese filling to seep out.
Slice the top inch or so from the squash, keep to one side as this will serve as your lid. Scrape out the pulp and seeds using a non-swivel vegetable peeler and spoon; you should be left with a hollow bowl.
Place the squash in a baking dish. Divide the cheese between the 4 squash, add a grating of nutmeg and the thyme leaves. Pour in the cream to come two-thirds of the way up the cavity.
Season with generous turns of black pepper and a cautious amount of salt, keeping in mind the saltiness of the cheeses.
Pop the lid on and bake for 1 hour until tender.
When cooked, remove the lids and add a fresh thyme sprig to each squash before jauntily placing their tops at an angle alongside to serve.
Eat by scraping the soft flesh into the hot cream. Delish!
Do not overcook the squash. If they’re left in the oven too long their skins can burst.
Fat 81g Protein 34g Carbohydrate 22g