By Jeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches
End of October? Pumpkins have been carved into not-very-scary jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin seeds have been roasted. Our CSA just had its last delivery and I decided to use the round green squash that we found in our bin for soup. What else are you going to do when it's grey, rainy and cool outside. Hello soup season!
I've been making variations on this soup for the past few years. The original version came from Smitten Kitchen and it's a good one. Spicy from fresh chills and a trip to the spice rack, sweetness from the squash and a can of black beans to give the soup some heft. There is no mistaking it, this is a dinner soup - add a batch of fresh baked biscuits and a green salad and you are done. It's hearty & warm for a wet autumn evening.
If you have a squash and want an easy way to deal with it, just rinse it well and place it in a covered pot with a bit of water into a 400F oven. In 40 minutes (more or less depending on the size of your squash), the squash will be tender - poke it with a knife to be sure. Let it cool a bit, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and the stringy bits. Spoon out the soft flesh and mash. Done!
I do have a few soup tips. When you dice up your onions, celery, chilies, garlic and sausage (if using), dice 'em up small. It really helps with the texture of the soup. Don't want sausage? Use ham or bacon or make it vegetarian....just make sure to toss in some smoked paprika for added smokiness. I've also added in finely diced veggie salami near the end of cooking with excellent results. This is soup, not rocket science so it's easy to play around with ingredients.
Spicy Squash and Black Bean Soup
Feel free to substitute canned, unsweetened pumpkin for the squash. It's a whole lot easier and a heck of a lot faster too.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 stalk of celery, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 birds eye chills, sliced
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 cup chopped tomatoes (or use canned diced tomatoes)
1 can black beans, drained
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup diced spicy Hungarian sausage (or use your favourite sausage)
2 cups mashed squash
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt + pepper
toasted pumpkin seeds, optional
In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat and add in the onion, garlic and chilies, sauté until soft. Stir in cumin and chipotle powder, along with the tomatoes and black beans. Use a potato masher and give everything a good mashing. If you like a smoother soup, add in half the stock and blend with an immersion blender. Otherwise, after the mashing, pour in the stock and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Add in the sausage and squash and cook down for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may want to add in more stock or water to get the consistency you prefer. Add in the vinegar and taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Serve in bowls and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.