This is my version of a dish from Trout Point Lodge in Nova Scotia, where I ate some of the best soups of my life. When Acadians, from the south of Nova Scotia, were expelled by the British many went to live in New Orleans (the word Cajun comes from Acadian). The chefs at Trout Point, all from New Orleans, have applied Cajun flavours to Nova Scotian ingredients.
Prep time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 35 minutes
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
½ green pepper, deseeded and cut into small squares
2 large plum tomatoes, chopped
600g butternut squash, deseeded, peeled and the flesh cut into 3cm cubes
½ tsp ground cayenne
good pinch ground allspice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 litre fish stock
small bunch of basil leaves, chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
50-75ml double cream, plus extra for swirling
400-500g raw prawns
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the onion, celery, pepper, tomatoes and squash. Cook over a medium heat until the pepper is soft and the onions are soft and translucent. Keep checking to make sure the mixture is moist enough to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan. Add a couple of tablespoons of hot water from time to time to keep it moist.
Add the spices and garlic and cook for a further two minutes, stirring a little.
Pour on the fish stock, season, then bring to the boil and add half the basil and half the parsley. Turn down to a simmer and cook until the squash is completely tender, about 20 minutes.
Leave to cool then purée in a food processor or blender. Add the cream to taste.
Put into a clean saucepan and add the prawns. They will cook in the time it takes the soup to come to a boil. (Keep some of the prawns back for a garnish if you like, in which case just sauté them in butter for a minute or so before serving on top of the soup.)
Add the rest of the basil and parsley. Serve with a swirl of cream, and a sprinkling of ground cayenne or paprika.