LAWRENCE MURPHY: Another Moroccan-inspired winter warmer

Butternut squash soup spiced with ras el hanout
Butternut squash soup spiced with ras el hanout


Cooking the chicken, olive and sumac tagine a few weeks back got me thinking about some of the other tasty dishes I'd eaten while in Morocco.

The marketplace in Marrakesh was buzzy and vibrant with numerous stalls selling exotic foods, carpets and crafts.

I was drawn to the food stalls and spice sellers, looking for inspiration for new dishes.

One of my favourite dishes was a spiced pigeon filo-style parcel called pastilla, so last week I re-created the dish using the last of the pheasants from this year's game season. It was served with date puree and toasted pistachio nuts to make a lovely starter.

The spice traders showed me their best spice mix called ras el hanout, which I often use with lamb and aubergines.

You can buy the mixed spice from most supermarkets but I think it's best to blend your own. You can adjust the contents to your own particular taste and use it to spice this warming winter soup.


For the ras el hanout

1dstspn coriander seeds

1tsp cumin seed

1/2tsp ground cinnamon

1dstspn paprika

2 dried chillies

8 cloves

1sp ground ginger

1tsp ground turmeric

1tsp sea salt

For the soup

700g butternut squash, cut into small cubes

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 leek, roughly chopped

2 sticks celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

600ml milk

150ml cream

Olive oil


1. Make the ras el hanout by placing all the ingredients in a pestle and mortar and grinding to a fine powder – you can use an electric grinder if you have one.

2. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan. Add all the vegetables and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

3. Add one tablespoon of the ras el hangout spice and cook for another five minutes.

4. Add the milk and cream, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Check the squash is soft and blend in a liquidiser.

5. Taste and season if required before serving.

Lawrence’s restaurant is Fat Olives, Emsworth. Visit or call 01243 377 914.