Saturday, October 27, 2012

Two Fall Soups: Black Bean Pumpkin & Butternut Squash

Roasted butternut squash pieces for soup #2

I found the first of these fall soup recipes while looking at other MUCH more established Pittsburgh food blogs as we started to set up this one. I saw that Burghilicious had posted a black bean pumpkin soup and decided to make it asap - I love pumpkin and I love black beans, especially black bean soup. 

Back in 2007 I spent a month in Costa Rica living with a host family, and my host mom made me something with black beans every single day, usually for more than one meal. Her black bean soup was the very thin brothy kind, with just a few beans, and often with a hard boiled egg, which was good because she normally served with something like three ham sandwiches, a pound of rice and an avocado. 

This soup by Burghilicious is totally different and features pumpkin puree, which you can use a can for or roast a pumpkin like in the last post. It's pretty thick and can hold up to a lot of good toppings, like tortilla chips, cilantro, sour cream or yogurt, chicken, cheese, etc.

Frying up the onions and green pepper. The green pepper isn't in the Burghilicious recipe, I just had some so I added it in. That's Call the Midwife on the iPad, a really good new show on PBS. PBS!!!!!
I had my first bowl with cheddar cheese, cilantro and tortilla chips.
And there was plenty leftover to freeze.

Onto fall soup #2! 

I've been using Emeril Lagasse's Farm to Fork cookbook a lot in the past couple weeks since my mom got it as a birthday present. We had a butternut squash so I tried his Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, another of my favorite soups because of travel memories. 

My family took three trips to Newfoundland, Canada, and we always had a lot of hearty squash soups. I remember having this soup in a restaurant pretty much at the northern tip of the island by L'Anse Aux Meadows, the site of the first Viking settlement in the New World (about 500 years before Columbus) and the coolest place ever (for people interested in archaeology...). I just looked it up and the restaurant is still there and even mentions the soup on the main page of their website.

The first step is cutting up and roasting the squash. Emeril says you should peel it first and I tried that, but I think it might be an unnecessary step - why wouldn't you just scoop it out after? Peeling it without wasting any flesh was pretty tough since it's such a hard squash. 
He agrees with me but neither of us are butternut squash experts.
While the butternut squash is roasting, you can start frying up the onions, carrots and herbs and make your kitchen smell very nice. 
After adding the broth you can blend it in batches. Emeril told me to put the butternut squash in the broth first but I don't know why you would do that either. By this point I was becoming rebellious so I didn't do that - I just popped it in from the bowl. 
And here's the soup with grilled cheese, potato salad and normal salad.
My main changes to this recipe were just using one squash - it called for four pounds and I'm not sure how much that would have been after being peeled and seeded but I think about one and a half maybe. I omitted the one cup of brandy called for because I didn't have brandy and I probably wouldn't want to use a whole cup of it in soup anyway. I added some sage because I had a little. I also used less liquid to get a thicker soup - his recipe called for 4 cups of stock or broth AND 4 cups of water, but I just used a few tablespoons of chicken base (like a broth paste I guess? it's always in our fridge) with 4 cups of water.

Recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted from Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh by Emeril Lagasse (2010)

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3-inch chunks 
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme 
1 sprig of sage
4 cups chicken broth, plus more if you want a thinner soup

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the cut squash in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Transfer the squash to the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the squash is lightly caramelized and tender. Remove it from the oven and set aside.

While the squash is roasting, melt the butter in a 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, thyme, sage, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the broth (and brandy, if you want to add a cup). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. 
Discard the thyme and sage sprigs.

Blend the soup using an immersion blender, or in several batches in a blender until it is completely smooth. Make sure each batch has both broth and squash. 

Serve hot. I served it with a spoonful of yogurt, but Emeril is fancier and suggests a dollop of crème fraîche and a drizzle of herb oil.

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