Monday, September 9, 2013

Cranberry Bean Soup

In yet more evidence that I get to work with some very cool people, at one of the conferences I attended last spring, there was a panel on food politics and communication, and one of the presenters there handed out seeds from her garden.  There were only a few of us at the panel (it was on the last day) so I greedily packed away a bunch in ziplocs and then promptly forgot about them until July.

Give me a break.  I wasn't home much this summer.

Anyway, I lazily threw them out into our neglected beds--we decided not to put much energy into gardening this summer, what with all the deck-building and traveling and droughtness going on.  But lo and behold, we had several gorgeous stalks of Red Amaranth come up, have munched on some delicious cantaloupe, which we barely managed to beat the squirrels to, and picked a Butternut Squash this weekend.  Pretty cool for zero effort and cost, yes?

That butternut squash was something of an affront to my person, though, I gotta say.  I mean, that is like October food, and we're barely out of August.  It sat on the counter all weekend, not quite ripe, daring me to make something autumnal with it.

Still, Monday night is soup night, and as I was flipping through my very favorite cookbook, I found this recipe for Cranberry Bean Soup.  And it was so delicious it almost melted me and E's faces off.  I especially like that it incorporates butternut squash in an interesting way, rather than a broil-it-and-stick-it-in-the-blender way, like most other squash soups.  Much too fall-ish for this heat, I say.

Oh my God, I know.  It's Good Housekeeping, for Christ's sake, rather than some shishi hipster joint you have on your bookcase.  But seriously, this is our go-to cookbook.  There is almost no recipe in here I don't like, and most of the recipes feature ingredients we have lying around the house, and they are pleasing to many of our picky eaters.  And we got it for $5 impulse buy at B&N.  You could probably scoop it for $.99 used right now, I bet, on Amazon.  Don't delay.

Description:  Chilean-style soup, blah, blah, blah.  I substituted black beans for cranberry beans (cuz I'm not running to the store for that)--still delicious, and we also didn't have jalapenos so I just dumped some hot sauce in.  Innovate, people!

4t olive oil
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (because who the hell would eat the peel)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1t ground cumin
1 3/4 cups veggie broth
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1.5 pounds fresh cranberry beans (or a can of whatever beans you have lying around)
1t salt
1t sugar
1 1/4 cups loosely packed basil leaves, chopped (or a 1/2 cup of whatever's left in your pot after raiding it all summer)
2 1/4c water
2 cups corn kernels cut from cobs (about 4 medium ears; I suppose you could use frozen, but I did happen to have fresh lying around, and let me tell you I think it absolutely makes the soup)

1.  In your big pot, heat 2t oil over medium heat until hot.  Add squash and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes.  Transfer squash mixture to bowl.
2.  In same big pot, heat 2t oil over medium heat, add garlic, jalapeño, and cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Stir in broth, tomatoes, beans, salt, sugar, squash mixture, 1/4 c basil, and water; heat to boiling over high heat.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 30 minutes (if you used canned beans, 15 minutes will do it and still cook the squash nicely).
3.  Stir in corn; heat to boiling over high heat.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in remaining 1 cup chopped basil.
4.  Eat the fuck out of that shit.

Okay, sorry.  That sort of vulgarity isn't necessary.  It's just that my face hurts from all the delicious melting off that happened.

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