'Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free!' - Velvet Soup and Squash Bread

Yes, it's that time of month again when us gluten free folks get together to cook up a little something delicious in a celebration of this gorgeous gluten free life we're living (and in my case you can add - grain free, sugar free, dairy and potato free!). This month's theme is Favourite Seasonal Vegetable, hosted by the delightful Rachel (aka - crispy cook) of The Crispy Cook. I need a host for September if anyone would like to take up the baton? Just email me or leave a comment with your blog address.

My only problem this month was narrowing down that choice to one, would it be sweet new season carrots? juicy runner beans? dark leafy spinach or succulent rainbow chard? What about the tiny new season beetroot just appearing or those amazing heirloom tomatoes that come in a rainbow of sunset colours? In the end, my choice was a simple one - a story of girl meets squash, falls instantly in love and takes squash home to have her wicked way with. What a squash! The dense apricot flesh cased in a flamboyant shell of green and cream stripes. This is not a squash to eat neat - it's too dense. You need to treat it with respect and dilute that rich starch with something else.

This week has been all about the soups - nourishing and easy to digest for my newly sparkling insides. A very dense squash makes for a creamy smooth soup - add in some chicken stock and you're half way to heaven. I didn't want to get all fancy on this squash, so I made a really simple soup and some squash bread to go with it. This soup, let me tell you - was so good, soo good! I could hardly wait for Nick to get home for supper and had to keep checking just how good it was. The chicken stock gave it savoury depth, squash provided a luxurious velvety texture,  sweetness came from carrots and caramelised onions and bay lent a soothing nutmeg back note. Yum! Fin went off for a day at the Magdalen Project -  tramping about in muddy streams and woods looking for bugs and building campfires - so I gave him a flask of soup with his lunch and some thickly buttered squash bread. The rest I ate straight from the pan, growling if anyone came near and using my finger to get the last bits.

The bread was simple too - I'll give the recipe another time (or maybe you'll just have to buy my book whenever I manage to spit it out). I toasted the almonds to enhance the mouth filling roundness of flavour and grated in a good amount of squash. It had a great texture, firm but moist and a slight squashy sweetness.

You could use any dense fleshed squash for this soup, but make sure it's local and in season - not some imported butternut from Israel (unless you're reading this in Israel of course)....

Velvet Squash Soup (four modest portions)

Olive oil or duckfat
1 medium brown-skin onion
2 medium carrots (8oz peeled weight)
Sea salt
8oz harlequin squash (peeled weight)
1.25 litres chicken stock (home made is best)
2 bay leaves (fresh ones are lovely)

Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil (or add a dessertspoon of duckfat to the pan instead) and heat gently.

Chop the onion roughly and throw into the pan - keep the heat gentle and stir from time to time.

Chop the peeled carrots finely and add to the pan with a pinch of salt. fry gently, stirring from time to time until the onions have started to turn a deep golden colour. This could take up to twenty minutes - but it's worth it.

Peel, de-seed and chop the squash roughly into cubes and put into the pan with the bay leaves. Pour in the stock and bring up to the boil.

Simmer gently with a lid on until the carrots are tender and then take the bay leaves out and liquidise until velvety smooth. You might want to keep back some of the stock - in case the soup is a little too thin - or add a little boiling water if it seems too thick. Taste for seasoning and add some salt or black pepper if you think it needs it. I assume your stock is salt free as I don't put any in mine, but check before you throw a load in!

Pour into bowls or thin it down a little and pack into a flask for tramping through the woods with.

The round up of 'Go Ahead Honey It's Gluten Free!', will be posted around the end of the first week of September after the September 7th deadline at The Crispy Cook. If you'd like to join in - head over to Rachel's blog for the lowdown on this month's challenge.