This is an autumn and winter dish as is reflected in the ingredients. You will want to eat is with some nice homemade bread, of course! Now, the setting....
The village has warm summers and colder winters, but is warm enough to grow squashes or pumpkins and garlic. The local farmers are particularly proud of their pigs and smoked and cured pork is a good keeper over the winter. Hard skinned squashes like butternut keep better than pumpkins and carrots keep well in a clamp. The villagers smoke some of their garlic harvest and they grow fennel for both the bulb and the spice.
My tavern would serve this regularly, though it would never be quite the same twice! I grow my own peppers and make my own paprika - some of them I would get the local butcher to smoke in his smoke house before I dry them to make the paprika.
All the quantities here are approximate - this is meant to be good, homely, rough tavern food!
- 1 large butternut squash
- 10 large carrots, peeled and diced.
- 2 large leeks
- 4 stick celery
- 4 cups peas or broad beans or whatever beans you have around.
- 1 bulb garlic (smoked if possible)
- 2 large red peppers
- 2 chillies (choose what heat you want)
- 8 rashers well smoked streaky bacon
- 2 tablespoons smoke paprika
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- Big handful of coriander leaf/ parsley / thyme - whatever is in season or you have dried. Use less if thyme.
- Oil - rapeseed or olive.
- Salt and pepper
- 3 pints of stock - chicken is nice, but ham stock would be fun.
Peel and chop the butternut squash, oil lightly, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon paprika and roast in a slow oven till soft.
Peel and chop the carrots and celery and boil till tender in 2 pints of the stock.
Chop up the leeks, garlic, bacon, peppers, celery and chillies and fry gently in a huge pot till the bacon is well cooked and the veg soft. Add the fennel seed and continue to fry for a few minutes. Add the rest of the stock, the herbs and the beans or peas and turn right down.
Once the squash is cooked, add to the pot.
Now, this is where is gets fiddly. In a modern kitchen, you would now add the cooked carrots and their stock and with a blitzer, turn it into a soup. If you are in medieval times, then add the carrots and NOT the stock, and then use a masher to mash everything up. Once mashed fine, add the rest of the stock. And we wonder why cooks were always so good at arm wrestling!
Once the soup is finished, season with salt, pepper and the remaining paprika.
Serve warm (not too hot as it ruins the flavour) with chunks of homemade bread. And I will put a recipe up for that later!