Black Bean Soup with Pumpkin Salsa

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Soup is a firm winter favourite. I like something thick and hearty with a bit of texture. This black bean soup ticks all of those boxes. The problem with black bean soup is that despite tasting really good it can often look very unappealing. It ends up looking like an unattractive grey slop which is a shame because it has a lot to offer. This one really looks nothing like that and I think the trick is to only process a little of it to thicken the soup and leave the rest of it in its natural state.

This soup uses a generous amount of chilli, making it quite spicy although not unbearably hot. However, if you prefer something milder reduce the amount of chipotle chillies you use. It also uses some dried Mexican oregano which does taste different to the traditional oregano. I’ve bought in on line, but if you don’t have any regular oregano will work just as well. Dry black turtle beans works best for this recipe, you should be able to find them in the supermarket or at a health food shop. The tinned ones break down far too much and the fairly long cooking time means that you won’t need to soak the black beans before hand.

The colourful pumpkin salsa also adds to the visual appeal but it’s tasty as well and adds some texture and freshness to the dish. If you haven’t got time to make the salsa, some sliced avocado and a squeeze of lime juice would work perfectly well.

This recipe makes plenty of soup so that unless you are feeding a crowd you can freeze some.

Serves 8

Black Bean Soup with Pumpkin Salsa

For the Soup

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo

250ml red wine

450g dry black turtle beans

2 litres vegetable stock

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

Salt and pepper

For the Salsa

½ butternut pumpkin

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 avocado, diced

About 5 sprigs of coriander, leaves picked

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted

Juice 1 lime

To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped vegetables and cook over a medium heat for about ten minutes, or until they begin to soften. Chop the chipotle chillies so that there are no large pieces and add this to the saucepan. Stir for about a minute.

Add the red wine and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the red wine has mostly evaporated. Add the dry beans, herbs and the vegetable stock.

Bring the soup to the boil and then cover and simmer for about 2 hours. During the cooking time check to make sure that there is plenty of liquid in the soup and add more hot water if necessary. You are looking for a soupy liquid rather than a sludge of broken down beans. How long the soup takes to cook will depend on the beans. Again you want them to be soft and edible but not disintegrated.

While the soup is cooking make the salsa. Heat the oven to 180 ℃ and line a baking tray with baking paper. Peel the butternut pumpkin and remove the seeds. Chop the pumpkin into a smallish dice, about 1cm square. Add to the baking tray with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the pumpkin is cooked.

Take the pumpkin from the oven and allow to cool. Before serving the soup add the remaining salsa ingredients to the pumpkin and toss lightly.

When the soup is cooked, add salt to the soup and then using a stick blender, blend the soup so that it is slightly thickened but there are still whole beans and vegetables in the soup. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Serve with the pumpkin salsa on the top and an extra squeeze of lime juice over the top.

SoupJulia Matusik