Black Bean and Squash Soup
"Kabocha squash is pureed with most of the beans to make the thick body of this soup, giving it a slight sweetness and mystery. A touch of jalapeño pepper and some cumin and lemon juice provide a spicy backbone. I love this soup!"
6 to 7 servings
- 1 1/4 cups dried black beans
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 6 fresh epazote leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried epazote
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 small kabocha or butternut squash (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 scant tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 1/2 cups any basic fresh or canned vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Truly green olive oil for garnish
- Crumbled fresh white cheese, such as queso fresco, for garnish
Rinse the black beans and combine them in a large soup pot with 7 cups water, the peeled garlic cloves, and the epazote. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the beans, covered, for at least an hour, or until they are tender. The time will vary with the age of the beans. When they are tender but not mushy, add a teaspoon of salt. Using a slotted spoon, lift out about a cup of the beans and put them aside.
While the beans are cooking, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds, and lay the halves cut side down on a lightly oiled baking pan. Roast the squash for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it is soft. Allow it to cool slightly, then scoop out all the soft pulp.
At the same time, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the chopped onion, the bay leaf, and a pinch of salt, and gently sauté over medium-low heat, stirring often, for about 25 minutes, or until the onion is soft and golden brown. Remove the bay leaf.
When the beans are tender, add the chopped carrot, celery, and jalapeño peppers to the beans and their broth and simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the roasted squash, the caramelized onion, the cumin, and the vegetable broth.
Allow the soup to cool slightly, then purée it in a blender, in batches, or with an immersion blender, until it is smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add the reserved whole beans and the lemon juice. Taste and correct the seasoning with more salt if needed.
Serve the soup hot, with a thick drizzle of fruity olive oil and a sprinkle of crumbled white cheese on top of each serving. Fresh corn tortillas or cornbread are sensational with the flavors of this soup.