I have costed this out using Waitrose's prices and it works out at about £1.55 per head. I used parsley from the garden which was free. If you need to buy parsley, it will be more like £1.75. Either way it's not going to break the bank and if you are a canny shopper you could probably do it for even less. If you are a canny gardener and grow your own squash that would be better and cheaper still!
What you need for 4 people:
1 large butternut squash - this one is called a Coquina squash - it was on special offer at Waitrose but any decent sized butternut squash will do
1 tbsp olive oil - I use a thick green extra-virgin olive oil in all my cooking but any olive oil is fine
300g risotto rice - any kind - Carnaroli, Arborio, Vialone but it must be proper risotto rice or you will end up with mush
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 l vegetable stock - I use the bouillon powder you can see in the photo - 4 tsps: 1 l boiling water. If I have an open bottle of white wine to hand I might use a glassful of wine with the boiling water to make up the litre of liquid required
black pepper - freshly ground from a pepper grinder
about 40 g grated Parmesan cheese - I do buy this pre-grated but get a good brand with a foreseeable use-by date on it not that dry stuff that looks like sawdust
a decent handful of fresh parsley chopped
What you do:
The first thing is to split the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
Put the split halves in a roasting tin and roast in a hot oven for about an hour. I do it at 190 C in a fan oven which cooks quite hot. If your oven is less fierce you might want to crank the heat up to 200 C and do a bit longer.
When it comes out it should look like this.
Leave it to cool. When it's cool enough to handle without scalding yourself (!), remove the skin and put the beautifully soft, deep orange flesh into a bowl and mash with a fork until you have a puree consistency like this.
I often do this bit in advance earlier in the day or even the day before. (Most of my cooking is done in broken down stages as I find it easier to fit it into my schedule like that.) You can also cook the squash way ahead and prepare to the puree stage and freeze in a freezer bag or plastic box. Defrost well before proceeding with the risotto though if you do this.
When you come to make the risotto itself, allow about 20 minutes preparation time.
Put the olive oil into a heavy flameproof casserole and cook the onion gently until softened.
Add the rice and stir into the fragrant oniony oil until the grains begin to go translucent. Keep stirring or the rice will stick.
Now add your stock a bit at a time. Purists say it should be a ladleful at a time but I add it in fewer instalments - probably about 250 ml at a time but it's not an exact science. Stir each instalment of stock into the rice until it is more or less absorbed before adding the next lot.
Season with a good grinding of black pepper. I don't add extra salt to my cooking but if you like to add salt, add it to the onions when you are softening them - it helps to bring out the juices.
Once all the stock is in and well on the way to being absorbed by the now fluffy grains of rice stir in the squash puree. Keep stirring gently.
Add about 4 tbsps of Parmesan cheese and stir in.
Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and ladle into warmed soup bowls with extra Parmesan and parsley to spoon over the top.
Enjoy! Winter sunshine in a bowl!