John Dory with butternut squash soup

Atul Kochhar creates a cinnamon-spiked soup with delicately-marinated white fish and chilli-flecked spinach
By Atul Kochhar
John Dory with butternut squash soup
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the marinade

  • 1 tsp ginger- garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ajwain seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • pinches sea salt

For the John Dory

  • 4 small fillets john dory
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp gram flour
  • chervil leaves or coriander, for garnish

For the butternut squash soup

  • 3 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 small green chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 500 g butternut squash, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 40 g sugar
  • 50 ml dry white wine
  • pinches garam masala
  • pinches ground coriander
  • 400 ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 30 ml single cream, (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • lightly crushed pink peppercorns, to garnish

For the greens

  • 2 tsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp crushed black pepper or red dried red chilli flakes
  • 200 g baby spinach or leaves lettuce
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander


1. For the marinade: mix together the ginger garlic paste, spices, lemon juice and salt. Coat the fish and put in a small casserole dish. Refrigerate for 10-20 minutes.

2. For the butternut squash soup: heat the oil in a small saucepan, fry the ginger and chilli for a minute and add onions. Continue cooking for a further 3 minutes before adding the butternut squash. Cook for 3-4 minutes more.

3. Stir in the sugar, a little salt and pepper and the white wine; reduce the wine by half. Stir in the ground coriander and garam masala. Add the stock and cream and cook for a further 30 minutes.

4. Cool slightly and blend the soup with a hand blender until smooth. Stir in the cinnamon and pass though a fine sieve. Keep warm until required.

5. For the John Dory: preheat the oven to 220C/ gas 7.

6. Heat the oil in a pan, dust the fish with gram flour and fry skin-side down. Cook the fish for 3-4 minutes or until the skin is crisp. Flip the fish to the other side and fry for 1 minute. Finish in the hot oven for 2-4 minutes, depending on the size of the fillets.

7. For the greens: heat the oil in a pan and fry the garlic until light brown. Add the chilli flakes, spinach leaves and spices. Sauté lightly until leaves wilt. Season.

7. Put the greens in the middle of a deep plate, pour the soup around the greens and arrange the fish on top of the greens. Garnish with coriander or chervil leaves and crushed pink peppercorns.

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