Hope you all had a great thanksgiving with friends and family. We sure did! Even though I am of East-Indian descent and never grew up celebrating thanksgiving, I really enjoy this holiday. And I really love hosting thanksgiving dinner at our place. In fact, I think we'll never be on vacation at this time of the year 'coz I'll miss hosting. But really, what would thanksgiving even be without our wonderful family and friends?
Well, I have been fighting this nasty flu-cold bug for 2 weeks now (thanks to my germ-carrying school age children :-)), and some soup was in order. Nope, did not use the Turkey carcass and Ham bone yet (soon to come recipes for those). So what did we have? Black bean pumpkin soup.
Another Pumpkin recipe? You ask. But 'tis the season, I say. Good news is this one is not one-dimensional as many pumpkin soups tend to be. Before you all get up in arms, let me clarify. I do like good old pumpkin soup -with apples, or curried, or whatwever. Many good recipes there. But it's just that sometimes I get a bit tired of eating a whole bowl of pureed pumpkin soup. But this one, dear friends, is a fiesty one. Not one-dimesional in the least. Bake yourself some nice cornbread and this is one helluva meal in itself.
If you are not into bacon, pancetta would do nicely. Oh! You're vegetarian? No problem, just use vegetable broth (or water) instead of chicken broth and leave out the bacon. Me, I'll hold on to the bacon. Woof, Woof! My canine, Casey agrees too. Here is a picture of her lovingly staring at the bacon as I was piling it on paper towels to drain. And yes, she got some (who can resist that face ?)
Oh! the black beans. I would really recommend starting from dried beans and cooking your own. Doesn't take much effort and the end result is unbeatable. If you're like me and have a pressure cooker, then it is a real snap as you don't even have to soak overnight. Sure, you can use canned black beans and I have used them many times myself (Goya is my brand of choice), but there is something especially yummy about the texture of freshly cooked beans. The skin is absolutely tender and the inside of the bean is perfectly soft and yielding, and most of all --the luscious inky smooth cooking liquid. Now where do you get that in canned beans. I drain all that off. So, if you will indulge me, cook up a batch of black beans. Oh by the way, they freeze beautifully too.
Black Bean Pumpkin Soup
Inspired from Gourmet, November 1996
4 cups cooked black beans
2 cups pumpkin puree (I use fresh, but organic canned will do)
3 strips thick-cut bacon
1 tsp olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, fine diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1. Add 1 tsp olive oil to a large dutch oven. Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook till crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels and set aside.
2. Drain all but 2 tbsp bacon grease. Add leeks, onions, carrot, garlic, red chili flakes, and salt. Saute 5 minutes. Do not brown. Add chicken broth, tomato paste, sugar, cumin, cinnamon, and pepper.
3. Puree 1 cup of black beans togther with 1 cup of pumpkin puree. Add this to the oan along with the rest of the black beans and pumpkin puree.
4. Cook 30 minutes, till all the flavors meld together, and the soup is thick. Add the red wine vinegar, stir. Check seasonings. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, some reserved bacon, and some chopped chives (or scallions). Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds for some welcome crunch.