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Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

November 15, 2007

Squash Bean Soup

What a minute. Am I actually posting something the day after I cook it, instead of waiting for one or two (or three) weeks before I finally find the time to get around to it? How is this happening? Don’t I have other things I should be doing? Well, yes. Yes I do. But this soup was so delicious, and it’s so perfect for fall, and I’m eating the leftovers for lunch right now, so I decided to take some time out of my way-too-busy day to share. But I’m not sharing the leftovers. Those are mine.

I actually stole this recipe, or at least the inspiration for it, from Smitten Kitchen. And I noticed that the lovely Everybody Likes Sandwiches made it, as well. Maybe this soup will become the new No-Knead Bread. On second thought, although it’s clearly very versatile, it’s not nearly as easy as No-Knead Bread. You might have to be pretty dedicated to both squash and beans to take the time for this soup. And I am both.

But you know what? Even if you’re not a devotee of the legumes, I wholeheartedly encourage you to spend some time in the kitchen getting acquainted with this soup, because it’s worth it. It is hearty and full of flavor and probably very, very good for you, what with the squash and tomatoes and beans and…um…bacon. (Repeat after me: Bacon is good for you. Bacon is a health food.)

The only thing bad thing I have to say about this soup actually has nothing to do with the soup itself, but rather, with my sad lacking of kitchen appliances. I don’t have a blender, see, or a food processor. I attempted to create a butternut squash puree and a black bean and tomato puree with a potato masher. Not really so efficient, as it turns out. In fact, I started dreaming about an immersion blender, and I never really thought about getting one of those before.  It might have to be on the list the next time I head to Target. And have money. But ANYway.

Swirled sour cream in black bean soup

I did make a few changes to Deb’s recipe, which I believe she found originally published in Gourmet in 1996. Neither I nor the housemate Amelia Bedelia are huge pumpkin fans, so I thought butternut squash might be just as good (if not better). And cooked ham? No, people, I used bacon. Delicious delicious bacon.

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash
  • about 1 c. of bacon, cut up into smallish pieces
  • 2 T. or so unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 T. cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large can of black beans (or 3 14-ounce cans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 14-ounce can of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 c. beef broth
  • 1/2 c. or so sherry cooking wine
  • a bit of sour cream for garnishing, if you feel so inclined

Preheat the oven to 375F. Chop the butternut squash in half with a big ol’ knife. (I’m always afraid I’m going to cut fingers when I’m trying to cut squashes in half.) Scoop out all the seeds and stringy bits, and put the squash halves, cut side down, into a baking dish. Add about a cup of water, and bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, so the squash is tender and scoop-out-able. (Yes, that’s a word.)

Once the squash is baked, set it aside to cool. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat, and add the bacon. Now, I tried to use the Pioneer Woman’s bacon cutting method. But you know what? Our kitchen shears are really not sharp enough. Because they’re not really kitchen shears so much as old scissors. I hurt myself attempting this, but eventually, that bacon was cut. I think a knife might have been easier. And this is what innovation brings me! Oh well.

Add the bacon to the hot soup pot, and stir it around a bit. Let it cook for about 6 or 7 minutes, until it has reached the level of crispiness you prefer. Then use a slotted spoon or a spider to remove the bacon to a paper towel, but leave the bacon grease there. Add a bit more butter to the pot, if you need it, for cooking the onions and other aromatics. Be careful with that butter! The pot is, at this point, pretty hot and it will burn fast if you don’t watch out. I had to remove the pot from the heat while it melted so it didn’t burn. Once the butter is melted, add the onions, shallots, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions start to brown a little bit. Then add the cumin and some salt and pepper. Stir it all up real good.

Now this is where you might want to use a blender or a food processor. Blend the beans (don’t forget to drain them!) and the tomatoes to a coarse puree, and add them to the pot. You can try your best with a potato masher, but I’m not sure I recommend it. Stir everything up so the onions are mixed into the bean mixture.

Remove the pot from the heat and attend to your butternut squash. Scoop all the soft, warm, squashy insides into a large bowl (or a blender, if you’re one of the lucky ones). Mash it up or blend it until you have a nice smooth puree, and then add it to the bean mixture. Turn the heat back up to about medium, and then add the broth and the sherry. Stir everything together very well. And hey, add the bacon back in, too, and let that soup absorb more of the delicious bacon flavors. Then bring the soup to a simmer and let it cook for about 25 or 30 minutes, until it thickens. Maybe add a bit more salt and pepper, to taste. And serve it with some sour cream. Isn’t it tasty? Beeeans. Squaaaash. Yum.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. crystalbrooke permalink
    November 17, 2007 1:56 pm

    I take it the blender that Amelia bought at CVS finally ate it, huh? Ah well, once again I am thoroughly jealous of the excellent food you’re making. Especially because it’s FREAKING COLD in BCN now!!! Why oh why is there an ocean separating us???

  2. November 19, 2007 10:55 am

    Soup I can do! I may attempt this one. Looks delish.

  3. Gramma Jeri permalink
    November 21, 2007 2:01 pm

    Hi dear granddaughter, I just got on and find this soup receipe, so that will have to wait until after the holiday that we are about to partake. Deb is making the baked sqaush with the sausage and bean filling for our Thanksgiving meal. Hope your day is a good one. we will be thinking of you. Love ya lots. Gramma

  4. Maria permalink
    December 5, 2009 7:48 am

    I wanted to thank you for this recipe. I love it! I’m vegetarian though, so I substitute tempeh bacon for the real bacon. Yum!


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