Hi! Yes, it’s me. Yes, I’ve been gone since April. I’m back! I could go into a lot of details about why I stopped posting for so long, but I think that might bore everyone else as much as me. Suffice to say that I am living in a new home (of our own!) in a new county, with a backyard where I can grow whatever I want. We had a busy summer, and then I worked at an autumn petting farm for over a month. Life is finally settling down, which is funny, considering we are in the midst of the holiday season.
However, through all my busy times, I’ve still been checking out new recipes and making plans to try things. Last night I finally got back on track with trying new recipes. I have a half dozen whole pumpkins sitting here waiting to be cooked, courtesy of the petting farm I worked at. So when I saw this recipe in a pumpkin cookbook, I thought it’d be a perfect way to use up some pumpkin, try something new, and have a nice nourishing warm soup as well.
Kidney Bean, Pumpkin, & Tomato Soup from Pumpkins and Squashes by Parragon [sic] Books
- 9 oz/ 250g dried kidney beans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, halved and thinly sliced
- 5 cups water
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 1/8 tsp dried thyme
- 1/8 tsp dried oregano
- 1/8 tsp ground cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 14 oz/ 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
- 9 oz/ 250 g peeled pumpkin flesh, diced
- 1/4 tsp chili paste, or to taste
- salt and pepper
- fresh cilantro, to garnish
“1. Pick over the beans, cover generously with cold water, and let soak for 6 hours, or overnight. Drain the beans, put in a saucepan, and add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches/ 5 cm. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse well.
2. Heath the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until they are just softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, celery, and carrot, and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
3. Add the water, drained beans, tomato paste, thyme, oregano, cumin, and bay leaf. When the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir in the tomatoes, pumpkin, and chili paste and continue simmering for an additional hour, or until the beans and pumpkin are tender, stirring from time to time.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in a little more chili paste, if desired. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with cilantro, and serve.
Serves 4-6. ”
This book is apparently of British origin, which explains why all the ingredients are cross listed in metric measurements.
Wow, using dried beans is a pain. All I’ve used dried before was dried chickpeas, for homemade hummus. and those I just cook til they’re ready to fall apart, and puree them. I found the directions for these kidney beans much more complicated. Also, by end of the soup’s cooking time, the beans were still a little chewy. I think they might need more than 10 minutes cooking time by themselves. You could probably make this recipe using canned beans just fine, although dry beans are much cheaper, and don’t come with a scary dose of BPA like all canned food seems to. (Have you seen this article? http://www.breastcancerfund.org/big-picture-solutions/make-our-products-safe/cans-not-cancer/bpa-thanksgiving-food.html ) But canned beans are unarguably easier.
As usual, I used the garlic I buy in a jar already minced, and toss in a heaping tablespoonful. The only other true substitution was that I didn’t have chili paste, and wasn’t familiar with it or interested in buying any right now. So I just used a teaspoon of chili powder instead. For salt and pepper, I added half a teaspoon of black pepper, and a teaspoon of salt. I didn’t add cilantro at all. I don’t like cilantro; I think it tastes like soap, not soup. yuck.
The tomato paste I used was great! I found it on sale at the grocery store, in a tube instead of a can. I’m not sure that using a tube gives me any less BPA exposure than a can would, but it does make using small portions significantly easier. Just squeeze them out. It’s especially convenient, because if refrigerated, the paste can keep indefinitely. I always hated having to figure out what to do with the rest of a can of paste, no matter how small the can was, and at least some of each can usually ended up getting moldy in a corner of my fridge. I hate food waste, and I hate mold, so that didn’t sit well with me.
Pumpkin takes a really long to chop up, in my opinion, but I think it was worth it. The texture of the pumpkin, when cooked in chunks, was soft and fairly smooth. It was a nice balance to everything else in the soup.
I was afraid such small amounts of herbs and spices would be too little, but the soup was actually quite tasty and very warming. It was also surprisingly filling, probably due to the kidney beans. This is very nutritious, too, so in general it’s something you can feel good about serving. If you kick up the spice a little more, it would be a good way to clean out the sinuses.
And that’s the recipe from yesterday. I am planning to get back on my game and stay there now.