january 23, 2020
The enjoyment of eating soup can be likened to the development of a good friendship. Things are lovely in the beginning and as time passes the relationship takes on depth from shared experiences. You would not immediately bond with most potential friends and you would not fully appreciate the complex flavors of soup until some time has passed and the taste blooms into something wonderful. We say a good overnight (or two, or three) sit will allow the flavors of soups and stews to marry well. And so soup is the ultimate make-ahead dish, for resting in the fridge or dwelling in the freezer for those chilly days when you’d like to slowly sip and inhale vegetable magic.
Here’s a soup with the seasonal use of winter squash and a can of black beans, which every pantry must keep in stock. Wintry in hue, garnishes will give this soup the color your eyes crave on gray winter days. While you can always puree soup in a blender or food processor, the less messy and super easy method is to use an immersion blender, or stick blender, which has helped before with Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Cider and Chipotle Spice and Gingered Carrot Soup.
Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce add kick. I use what I need from the can and keep the remainder in a glass jar in the freezer, defrosting and refreezing with no loss of quality. This lively condiment keeps for months. If not available, or if you want a shortcut, simply use ground chipotle peppers to taste—generally just a couple of shakes will give needed heat and flavor.
Snow days mean soup days. We have yet to get our first snow, but I have this soup in the freezer for when it arrives. Perhaps this soup will be my talisman for a good dusting of pretty flakes.
Butternut Black Bean Soup
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes 4-6 servings
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 tablespoon neutral oil like canola or grapeseed
finely ground white pepper
one large garlic clove, zested on microplane grater
1 generous (or to taste) teaspoon canned chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped *
¾ cup loose pack chopped cilantro, stems and leaves
4 cups chopped butternut squash
4 cups best quality vegetable stock
one 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
optional garnishes : raw or toasted pepitas, cilantro leaves, sliced jalapeños
* you can also use ground chipotle pepper powder to taste
- In two quart stockpot, combine onion and oil with pinches of salt and pepper over medium high heat; when mixture begins to sizzle, turn heat to medium and stir occasionally until onion is soft and translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add garlic, chipotle paste (or a few shakes of powder) and cilantro; stir about 5 seconds.
- Add butternut squash and vegetable stock, bring to boil, then simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Use immersion/stick blender to puree, then add black beans.
- Simmer to develop flavor another 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately, or for best flavor, after soup has been refrigerated for 1-4 days.
- Soup thickens considerably on standing, so if reheating, add a little water and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- If desired, at serving time garnish with pepitas, more cilantro and sliced jalapeño peppers.