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The chillier temps over the past few days made for perfect inspiration for my favorite fall/winter food group: soups (and stews, chilis, and/or other dishes that allow me to play with my immersion blender). And in honor of Halloween’s arrival (though many of us may have already celebrated Halloweekend), I give you a duo of creamy soups that make for a perfect black-and-orange tip of the hat.
Black Bean Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
4 large garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups veggie broth
3/4 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lime juice (abou half a lime)
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pan. Add the onions, garlic cloves, and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
Add the black beans, broth, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
Purée the soup using an immersion blender until very smooth and creamy. Stir in lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup
1 medium pumpkin (preferably a sugar pumpkin) and 1 medium butternut squash
1 cup leeks
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
5 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel pumpkin and squash and cut into 2-inch chunks, removing inner seeds and fibrous bits. Save for roasting the seeds.
Slice the white flesh up to the green stalks of several leeks. Toss the pumpkin, squash, garlic cloves, and leeks on a baking tray with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a fork inserted into the flesh of the pumpkin and squash meets no resistance.
Add the pumpkin and squash mixture to a large pan over medium heat and add 3 cups of broth. Using immersion blender, blend and breakdown until smooth. Add remaining broth and continue to blend. Add brown sugar and nutmeg and sauté for 30 minutes.
For the pepitas: Rinse and remove seeds from fibrous insides in a colander before tossing with salt, pepper, a tablespoon of cumin, a pinch of cayenne, and olive oil. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet. After you remove the pumpkin and squash mixture from the oven, put the seeds in for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly browned but not burnt.
For the avocado crema: Blend half an avocado, 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, juice from the remaining half a lime from the black bean soup, and a teaspoon of garlic salt until creamy.
And my favorite part: the presentation! While out to dinner a few years ago around this time, I came across the presentation of black bean soup and squash soup in the same bowl, making for a sort of Halloween ying yang. It might have required a little shoving of the soups back over to their designated side with a spoon, but I can’t help but be proud of the result — and the soups, along with the avocado and pepitas, complement each other wonderfully.