On many levels, this is comfort food at its best. First as a roasted butternut squash and garlic soup spiked with chilli to warm you through the winter and then as this divine, buttery risotto. And if you play your cards right, you might even have enough to make a third offering of arancini if you have any leftover risotto.
Whether you’re planning on having soup first or just aiming for the risotto, you need to start by roasting a peeled and cubed butternut squash and a whole head of garlic. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp chilli flakes. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil as this will add to the flavour and roast at 180ºC for 30mins, until the garlic can be squeezed out of its skins and the butternut is cooked through.
Don’t be tempted to increase the temperature as your garlic will burn and harden giving everything an acrid flavour.
Blitz 3/4 of the butternut squash and all the roasted garlic with 500ml of boiling water using either a stick blender or food processor to make the soup. You will need to thin the soup mixture with extra vegetable stock to make 1litre of stock for your risotto. Use any vegetable stock that you are happy using.
Reserve 1/4 of the butternut squash back to serve over the risotto or to pop into the arancini.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Risotto
1 stick of celery
60g of unsalted butter
300g risotto rice (Carnaroli, Arborio or Vialone Nano)
1 glass white wine / dry sherry
1 litre of vegetable stock
50g grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)
Salt & Pepper
1st: Heat half the butter with some olive oil in a pan. Peel the celery to remove the stingy bits. Finely chop the celery and shallots before adding to the pan. Cook for approx 5 mins until the mixture becomes soft and translucent, making sure it doesn’t catch. Meanwhile, heat the stock in another saucepan and keep it at simmering point.
2nd: Add the rice to the shallot and celery mixture and stir until everything is slicked in the buttery mixture. Add the white wine and stir the mixture until the alcohol has evaporated off and the rice has absorbed the liquid.
3rd: Pour a ladleful of warm stock into the rice and stir gently until the stock has been absorbed. Add another ladleful and stir again. Continue to do this until the rice is cooked through and no longer chalky. This can take approx 20mins.
NB: You may not need to use all the stock or you may need to add more hot water from the kettle.
4th: Take the risotto off the heat and stir in the remaining butter, grated parmesan and season to taste. Allow the risotto to sit for a few mins.
5th: Meanwhile, warm the remaining butternut squash cubes in butter and oil. Once warmed through, add sage leaves and fry until crisp.
6th: Serve the risotto topped with butternut squash, sage leaves, parmesan shavings and a drizzle of olive oil (or better still with any sage butter you may have in the pan!)