It's cold. It's grey. It's one of those bummer Autumn days, not bright and cold with pretty trees. I'm talkin' wet pant legs and chilled bones.
I need Warm in by bones and my belly. I need chile and broth and beans. And since it's so dark, I want this bright orange butternut squash. And some cilantro. And a splash of fresh orange...oh, I just made the most amazing soup!
K, so really I was unimpressed with all the black bean/butternut squash soups I looked up online yesterday. They had carrot in them, and other non-Southwest/non South American things in them. And they were pureed, or creamy, and what I wanted was the simplicity of just the beans and the butternut. So I struck out on my own, and this is what happened!
Black Bean Butternut Squash Soup
1 lb. black beans
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
2-3 cups diced butternut squash (fresh or frozen)
1/4-1/2 cup whiskey
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium white onion (chopped)
4 green onions (chopped)
1/2 cup canned/frozen green chiles
Powdered Chiles, totaling about 2 tablespoons*
a pinch of Marjoram and Mexican Oregano
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cocoa
Salt to taste
1 orange (optional)
*for the Chile powder, I use a combination of lots of different red chiles for a really deep flavor. Start here and then amass your own!
1 Tbsp sweet paprika (or dried sweet red chile)
2 tsp mild-medium hot chile powder (try mixing ancho, sundried chiles, molido, poblano)
1 tsp hot chile (chipotle, etc.)
Taste as you add your heat so that you can tell how hot it will-be...remember, the oils release with long-cooking and it gets hotter than you may have intended!
1. Soak beans over night. Discard the water, or use it to water your plants. It's GREAT for plants.
2. Throw soaked beans in a crockpot with most of the broth (save out about 2 cups). Taste for salt, you might want to add an extra 1/2 tsp salt to soak into the beans. It's okay if it tastes salty now. It won't later. Measure your chile powders and toss them in as well. Add your marjoram and oregano too.
3. In a pan or cast iron, sear your chopped onions. Once they are still rather uncooked and partially burt, turn off the heat and add the whiskey. Let is boil and sputter, then add the remaining chicken broth once it's almost all evaporated. Stir the broth and onions to get all the flavor off the sides of the pan, then dump it in the crock pot. Make sure there's enough liquid to cover everything with an inch or so extra.
4. Let it crock until the beans and squash are tender, at least a few hours. I let mine sit while I was at work.
5. SERVE!!! For a simple, southwesterny-flavor, serve as-is with some cilantro. For a totally different and exotic soup, add about a teaspoon of freshly squozen orange juice to each bowl.
And stay tuned for my other idea from last night: Savory layered Black Bean Butternut Polenta Torte! Will it have a ground pepita crust? Or will it be topped with a pepita-cilantro pesto? I'm not sure yet.. But trust me, I'll let you know!