Squash & Miso Soup with Cheese & Kimchi Toasties

Cheese and Kimchi Toasties

I never thought I’d be posting a squash recipe here, let alone a squash soup. I used to loathe the pappy sweetness of most orange-fleshed gourds, and they’re like pure baby food when whizzed into a soup; I’ve still got teeth. In recent years however I’ve come around to certain preparations of butternut squash, in particular those which steer away from that pumpkin-pie-cinnamon-spice-thanksgiving vibe. Miso does this job very well indeed, its yeasty funk bringing some complexity.

A toasted cheese sandwich is hardly a groundbreaking accompaniment to soup but it is more exciting with the addition of kimchi, especially a really punchy one. I used up the ends of a cheeseboard in the sandwich but it was mostly Lancashire, which has some sharpness. That’s one gnarly end of ageing cheese and a double whack of fermentation before 1pm on a Wednesday. Not bad going.

Squash and Miso Soup with Kimchi Cheese Toasties

Squash & Miso Soup with Cheese & Kimchi Toasties

If you do dig the sweetness of squash then you could enhance that in this soup by roasting it first and adding it later.

1 kg butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cubed
1 large potato (around 400g), peeled and cubed. You could use sweet potato too.
1 onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and grated or crushed (I do all mine on a microplane these days)
3-4 tablespoons white miso (or yellow)
1.5 litres good quality vegetable stock
Oil for frying (vegetable or groundnut/peanut)
Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese seven spice) to garnish (optional)

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan (large enough to cook the soup in) and gently cook the onion until soft but not coloured, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or so, taking care not to burn it. Add the miso and stock and stir until the miso is dissolved. Add the squash and potato and simmer gently until soft. Blend the soup – this is easiest with a stick blender.

Taste and season. Serve topped with a sprinkle of shichimi and the cheese toastie.

For the toastie

Two slices sourdough bread
Cheese (any melter will do here, but you want something with strong flavour, like good Cheddar or Lancashire)
Butter or mayonnaise

Do I really need to tell you how to do this? Okay. You can either butter the outside of your bread or spread it with mayonnaise, both work well (as mayonnaise is really just oil). If you have a toastie machine, as I do, then it’s a case of filling the sandwich and then putting it (butter or mayo-ed side down) into the machine. If you don’t, then fry the sandwich in butter, weighing it down with something heavy, then flipping over and repeating until golden on both sides.

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  • Avatar
    Reply Niamh January 29, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Yum yum yum! Kimchi joy! Miso joy! Squash joy! Glad to see you are (kinda) coming round. I love the stuff! Partial to kimchi generally but it makes a superb toastie, right? I like it with a sharp cheddar.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves January 29, 2016 at 11:22 am

      Yeah it’s been a long time coming, I’ve really struggled with that sweetness and texture but I am trying. Miso helps a lot, as does chilli, coconut milk. I can’t stand the fact that I don’t like something.

  • Avatar
    Reply Sharmila February 1, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    I’m with you on squash. Same with sweet potato. It’s *okay* in small quantities but I find the sweetness so cloying. Give me a plate of bitter leafy greens any day. And don’t get me start on anything involving “pumpkin spice”.

    (This looks good though!)

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves February 1, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Pumpkin spice is stuff of nightmares for me. I’m taking small steps with these sweet vegetables. Very small steps.

  • Avatar
    Reply Mabs February 1, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    I too have come round to the orange gourds. WHAT’S HAPPENING TO US.

    Lovely pics. Someone adapted the kimchi toasted cheese sandwich from my book into a quesadilla and I haven’t thought of much else since.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves February 2, 2016 at 8:06 am

      QuesaDEEEYA! I haven’t made any quesadillas in yonks. I never thought I’d see the day when we’d happily eat squash. I ate some just last night. Last night!

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