Honey and Sage Soup
Another award-winning soup. John Hardwick reckons this is his all-time favourite: ‘Very rich – so you don’t need to serve enormous bowls of it – fantastically smooth and silky, with a great colour and just the right element of sweetness.’
Of the readily available squashes, you can’t beat butternut, which is full of flavour and has the right texture and vibrant colour, whereas some varieties have disappointingly dull-looking flesh. Of the heritage squashes Crown Prince is also good, but avoid pumpkin for this, as the flesh tends to be more watery.
Melt the butter in a large pan (one that has a lid) over a low heat, then add the squash and salt. Cover with the lid and sweat for 10 minutes over a low heat, until softened but not browned.
Add the stock and the cream, turn up the heat and bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer for 5 minutes, or until the squash is cooked through and soft.
Add the lemon juice, honey and sage, bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat.
Liquidise, taste and season as necessary before serving.