Many variations of this soup have passed through my kitchen this winter and I have loved each and every one. When I’m in the mood for a stew, I cut down on the liquid, cut the squash in larger chunks and stir them in at the end. Last fall I replaced some of the water with pureed tomatillos which gave the dish a delicious, tangy layer of flavor.
This soup is warming and creamy: sweet from the squash, fragrant from the herbs and spices and has enough kick to wake up your taste buds. I guess you all know that I love beans and their many, unique healing properties. With this soup I am not only soothed by the lovely texture but also by knowing how much black beans nourish the kidneys, which is why they are helpful in healing sore lower back and knee pain (both of which are represented by the kidneys).
In Chinese medicine, foods that are small and dark support healthy kidney function. All beans benefit the kidneys but black beans are particularly helpful since black is the color that represents the kidneys energetically.
Beans in general contain higher protein than eggs and most meat, and provide a great source of iron and calcium without the fat and cholesterol. They also contain isoflavones that help prevent cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.
I served this for an early dinner on a lazy Sunday evening, it was delicious eaten with guacamole, pickled cabbage and these locally made corn tortillas from Hot Bread Kitchen. (a great non profit social enterprise worth checking out!)
The guacamole and cabbage are super simple but let me know if you would like the recipe and I’ll post them!
Spicy black bean squash soup
The amount of cayenne pepper that you add at the end will depend on how spicy your jalapeno ends up being and how spicy you want to make the soup. Just be aware that the spice can increase as it simmers.
1 ½ cup black beans, soaked over night, drained, and rinsed
5 1/2 cups of water divided
2 inch strip of Kombu
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 garlic medium cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
¼ cup cilantro stems, finely chopped
2 small carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 cups butternut squash, ¾ inch dice
1 ¼ cup cabbage, ½ inch dice
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped, reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish
Cayenne pepper to taste
Place black beans in a pressure cooker with 3 cups of the filtered water, kombu and bay leaves. Bring up to full pressure over high heat, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, add onions with a pinch of salt and sauté until translucent. Stir in garlic and jalapeno, sauté for one minute more. Add cumin, oregano, and cilantro stems. Stir in carrots, celery, squash, cabbage, and remaining water.
Bring up to a boil, stir, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes until vegetables are cooked. Pour in black beans with their cooking liquid; add cilantro leaves, salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Raise heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and soup to thicken to desired consistency.
Garnish each bowl with remaining cilantro leaves.
Serves 4 to 6 people
Click here for printable recipe