Looking back over the last few weeks' offerings, maybe "soups one can prepare when one is almost too tired to stand" should be a regular category. This one does require peeling and chopping of a butternut squash, though, which might be a bit much for the truly exhausted. However, exercise does have a tendency to perk up the enervated body, so maybe it's not so much of a stretch after all. And chopping innocent squashes into obedient little cubes is just so darn satisfying. And it means you get to break out the Big Knife, which is a treat in & of itself.
I have a feeling this would be a fine candidate for a slow cooker… say four to six hours on Low? And, were one in a meaty mood, a little chopped kielbasa stirred in at the end might not be at all amiss. As it is, though, it works equally well in its vegetarian or vegan incarnations.
Squash & Bean Soup
Adapted from Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen
[Look, ma, no onion!]
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground sage–or, better yet, one or two fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 tsp salt
One small butternut squash, peeled, seeded (I love this part) and chopped into 1/2" cubes
3 cups black beans, either canned/rinsed/drained or leftover cooked-from-fresh
6 whole canned tomatoes, roughly chopped
5 cups broth or stock
A good handful of hulled green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
More salt, plus some pepper
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided (optional, but highly recommended)
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat in a soup pot. Add garlic, sage, red pepper flakes and salt; cook, stirring like a mad(wo)man, for one minute.
Add squash, beans, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until squash is very tender, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high in a small skillet. Add pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring the while, until seeds puff up and look toasted. This will happen more quickly than you expect. Be alert! Also, some of the seeds will probably go flying out of the pan with a mighty POP! I suggest eye protection, or at least not sticking your face directly over the skillet. Immediately remove from heat, transfer seeds to a small bowl with a slotted spoon, and toss with a couple pinches of salt.
When squash is nice and tender, remove from heat and give soup a not-so-thorough mashing with a potato masher.* You don't want a perfectly smooth puree, but you want to give the soup some body.
Return to low heat; whisk in half of Parmesan cheese; heat through, stirring regularly, until cheese is melted. Taste and correct seasoning.
Serve with additional tufts of Parmesan and a sprinkling of toasted pepitas over each bowl.
* The only potato masher worth the name: an all-one-piece disk-style masher, like this one. All other styles will bring you sorrow, frustration, and potatoes that are either too lumpy or not quite lumpy enough.