Halibut & Spicy Butternut Squash ‘Soup’

  • Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves: 2
  • Level: easy

‘…safe to say we were right! The spicy butternut squash is sublime, and with fresh, tender, juicy halibut, you’ll be mmm’ing and ahh’ing through the meal. I also had this for lunch at work, as we had lots of the soup part left over, the aromas filled the office with friends looking over saying “where did you get that from?’

'It's great to watch dad cook like an alchemist, throwing ingredients into a pot. But we all know it will taste delicious...'

What you need

400g halibut steaks, skinned


For the soup

670g approx. butternut squash

200g celeriac chopped into medium pieces (celeriac adds smoothness and is a replacement for potato)

1 medium onion, chopped

5 cm piece of ginger peeled and chopped.

1 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp mild curry powder (I use Bolst brand for this – it’s worth comparing curry powders – they are very different. Bolst has quite a high turmeric content)

3 cardamon pods – ideally the black smoked type

Half a dried guajillo red chilli or equivalent (not too hot)

1 tbs butter

2 tbs light olive oil or vegetable oil

400ml coconut milk

500ml chicken stock, vegetable stock or 500ml water with 1 very low salt chicken or vegetable stock cube

80ml single cream

1 sprig coriander

Salt and pepper

Squeeze of lime


For the vegetables

1 large carrot peeled and cut into attractive pieces

400g Charlotte potatoes peeled and cut into walnut size pieces

1 medium shallot – or small onion

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 – 1 tsp turmeric powder

Half a dried guajillo red chilli or equivalent (not too hot)

2 bay leaves

2 tbs butter

1 tbs light olive oil or vegetable oil

180ml chicken stock, vegetable stock or 180ml water with 1/4 very low salt chicken or vegetable stock cube



Dad's Recipe Tales

This is really good

The idea is frankly odd – neither fish nor fowl as far as the soup is concerned. But I have seen several shallow ponds of ‘soup’ prepared on cookery shows, so I had the idea of making a fish curry-come-soup.

The final dish has the potential for a very good presentation – it will look like an attractive archipelago of halibut and braised vegetables rising out of a ochre sea. Use a large shallow pasta bowl for maximum impact.

The main pleasure of this dish is that it’s very easy to eat and digest. It’s not too spicy – either in the hot sense or the rich and intense curry sense. In fact it’s quite soothing. The second part is the halibut: what an amazing fish. Use thick pieces so that they will still be tender and juicy. Do try to source this if you can. It’s expensive but worth it. Splash-out, I can confidently say that it will seem as though you’re eating in a restaurant.


How Dad Cooked It

Make this in two stages over two days, or roast the squash during the day and cook the rest of the meal at night – or even do what I did and roast the squash on the first day, make the soup on the second day and the dinner on the third. The recipe makes 1250ml of soup so there is plenty to have as a proper soup as well as in the fish recipe.

  1. Prepare the squash. Cut the squash in half and scrape-out the seeds. Put a splash of water in a roasting tin, season the squash with salt and pepper and drizzle over a little olive oil. Cover the pan with tin foil and cook at 160C, Gas 3 for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the flesh is tender. Let the squash cool and scrape the flesh from the skin. Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Make the soup. Sweat the onion and ginger in a thick-bottomed pan in the oil and butter on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the celeriac and continue to sweat for 5 minutes. Then add the remaining spices and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the coconut water (i.e. the clear part of the coconut milk) and the stock and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on the pan and simmer gently on a low heat for 15 minutes and then add the butternut squash. Simmer for a further 10 minutes or until the celeriac is very tender. Add the remainder of the coconut milk and simmer for another minute. Let the soup cool for 5 minutes. Locate the cardamon pods and peel off the outer husk returning the seeds to the pan. Transfer into a blender in stages and blend until smooth. Season the soup and measure out 500ml and put into a pan. The remainder can be kept for eating as normal soup. It will keep for a couple days or can be frozen .
  3. Cook the vegetables. Cut the onion into quarters and add to a thick-bottomed pan set to a medium heat. Add the oil and butter spices, chilli and bay leaves and vegetables. Sweat the vegetables for a couple of minutes and then add the liquid. Bring to a simmer and turn the heat to its lowest setting. Put the lid on the pan and cook until the vegetables are tender. Strain the liquid from the pan into the soup.
  4. Cook the fish. Heat a nonstick frying pan and add a 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs light olive oil or vegetable oil. Add the halibut pieces and cook on a low to medium heat. Don’t turn them too soon, they should have just a touch of colour. Mind you do not over-cook the fish – allow for residual heat in the pan to continue to cook whilst assembling the dish.
  5. Assemble the dish. Make an unashamedly cheffy attempt at presentation here. Use very large bowls or deep dishes. Do not plan to put all the elements onto the plates to start – it will be too crowded for a good visual impact. (Come back for seconds!) Arrange fish and vegetable pieces attractively. Heat the soup gently, add the cream stir for a minute and then check the seasoning and add a squeeze of lime and check again. Very carefully pour the soup into each bowl allowing the level to come half way up the vegetables and fish. Garnish with coriander.


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