Parmigiano Reggiano and butternut squash soup
150 g (6 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, with rind
25 g (1 oz) butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
900 ml (1 ½ pt) hot vegetable stock
150 ml (¼ pt) milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
4-6 slices French bread
Fresh parsley or thyme, Chopped to garnish
This superb soup has a fabulous taste, enhanced by adding the rind from the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese as it cooks, to extract every bit of flavor.
Reserve the rind from the Parmigiano Reggiano and cut it into chunks, then finely grate the cheese.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and gently fry the onion for about three minutes, until softened, but not browned. Add the butternut squash, vegetable stock and Parmigiano Reggiano rind. Heat until the mixture is just simmering, then turn the heat to low and cook gently for about 20 minutes, partially covered, until the vegetables are soft and tender.
Remove the rind from the saucepan, then transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and add most of the grated cheese, reserving about 25 g (1 oz) for garnishing. Blend the soup for 15-20 seconds, until completely smooth. Return it to the saucepan and add the milk. Stir thoroughly and reheat until piping hot. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Meanwhile, toast the slices of French bread, sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano on top and grill until melted. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, then top each portion with one piece of French toast. Sprinkle with fresh parsley or thyme and a little extra ground black pepper, then serve.Cook’s tips: You’ll need roughly 500g (1lb 2 oz) of butternut squash when peeled and deseeded. If you have any left over, simply roast it until tender to serve as a vegetable with another meal. To store the soup, cool it quickly, then refrigerate for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months.