Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful if you delegate to friends and family . Timing, organization and lists, while perhaps a little boring, are really important. There’s no such thing as luck when it comes to a really well done Christmas meal. Planning ahead will give you not only wonderful, tasty food, but also the ability to surprise and wow people, delivering the unexpected to mind-blowing levels and getting them almost fighting over the best roast potatoes, the perfect stuffing or the most succulent, juicy bird you’ve ever slapped bang in the middle of your table.
ROASTED APPLE & SQUASH SOUP
- 1 butternut squash 1.2kg
- 3 Cox’s or Braeburn eating apples
- 1 large onion
- 1 –2 fresh red chillies
- 4 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- 1 pinch of coriander seeds
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
- 1 pinch of sweet cayenne pepper
- 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
- optional: 150ml single cream
- optional: edible flowers or flowering herbs
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Wash the squash, then carefully cut it in half lengthways and remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into 2½cm chunks and put them into your largest roasting tray. Peel and quarter the apples, removing the cores, peel and roughly chop the onion, then add both to the tray. Halve, deseed and add the chillies, then squash and add the unpeeled garlic cloves. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil, add the coriander seeds and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then strip over the rosemary leaves. Toss well, then roast for around 45 to 50 minutes, or until it’s all cooked through, intensely golden and delicious. Toss the pumpkin seeds with salt, pepper, a little oil and the cayenne. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, then put aside.Squeeze the soft roasted garlic flesh into a blender, discarding the skins. Spoon in half the roasted veg, add half the stock, put the lid on, cover with a tea towel, then, holding the lid in place, blitz until smooth. Pour into a large pan, blitz the rest of the veg and stock, then add that to the pan with most of the cream (if using). Bring to a simmer on a medium-low heat, then taste and season to perfection, adjusting the consistency with a little more stock, to your liking.Divide the soup between warm bowls and add an extra swirl of cream for a retro finish, then sprinkle over the toasted seeds. You can also delicately decorate with flowering herbs or edible flowers, if you like. Good with warm crusty bread.