So that’s not the best name for a soup, but it seemed descriptive of what I made last Sunday.
First, a few days before, I caramelized a bunch of smaller onions (peeled, stem ends trimmed, quartered almost through to the stem end but not quite) similarly to the Caramelized Shallots I have been adoring over at Smitten Kitchen – only with less butter, so completely differently. Let’s say I remembered to add a small chunk of butter, maybe 2 tablespoons. And then I splashed over some balsamic vinegar because I love it and hadn’t bought any red wine vinegar since a vicious squirrel invaded my kitchen and broke my last bottle. A bit of brown sugar (mildly infused with lime zest because that was the brown sugar easiest to hand), some salt and pepper, and a loose covering with tin foil. Cooked until the liquid was just a bit too far past syrupy to save for another use (sadly).
I think that was also the day I split the delicata squash in half (and saved the seeds) to roast. Actually, this was all done on the long planned day of roasting, so it must have been the same day. Afterward, I pulled the peel off and put the chunks in a container in the refigerator for future use.
Also, that same day, I roasted several heads of garlic.
So, slice up a couple of the caramelized onions, cut the squash meat into smallish chunks, and toss a few cloves of roasted garlic into a pot and pour in some vegetable stock to cover.
Cook cook cook.
Season with a bit of salt, some nutmeg, ground pepper, and a bit of ground coriander.
Once everything is cooked tender, puree in a blender. I am only just starting to be convinced of the whole blending soups school of thought, and I will say that it works much more smoothly when you are making single portions of soups rather than large batches that’ll last a week.
So return the blended soup the a rinsed pot. At this point, I tasted it and decided it was definitely lacking a high note. Should I add fruit? Can’t spruce it up with some vinegar because it already has that from the caramelized onions. You know… I bet a buttery, plump roasted scallop would really set this soup off well. Only I don’t have a good source for seafood.
So I set a container of nonfat plain yogurt to drain.
Once it was a bit drier, I lumped a quarter of a cup into the bottom of my soup bowl. To the yogurt, I added a pinch of cumin, a pinch of chipotle powder, a pinch of ground pepper, and a sprinkle of salt. Stirred that thoroughly, and poured over the hot soup. I gave it a few stirs to swirl the yogurt through, but I did not mix it completely. And it turned out just right.
Now I have to think of a soup that will benefit from some whey as the liquid component.
But for tonight, I am making a pretty standard black bean soup that ended up being fairly strongly based on my chili recipe. I just started going for that on automatic.
Set a cup of black beans to soak the night before. (Or open a can and rinse)
In 1 teaspoon of olive oil, cook down 1 onion (small dice) and half a dozen baby carrots (cut to about the same size). One they start to soften, add 1 clove garlic (minced), flesh only of 1 serrano pepper (minced), 1 caramelized onion (sliced – see recipe above), 2 roasted garlic cloves.
Once the vegetables are soft, add 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, and a pinch of asafoetida. Stir together and let heat for a minute.
Stir in the drained black beans. And for some reason, I keep feeling like cooking them a minute or two before adding the liquid. I don’t know if there is any benefit, but it doesn’t seem to do any harm.
Add vegetable stock to just cover. Once the liquid is simmering, add 1/2 tsp ground thyme, 1/2 tsp ground oregano, 2 tsp paprika, and a pinch of sugar. Oh, wait… I didn’t use sugar. My buckwheat honey has started crystallizing, and I still have about half the jar left, so I stuck a knife in and pulled out about 2/3 tsp of honey and used that, instead. Right. That should be awesome.
I let it cook down for about an hour, until it started looking a little dry, and then I added a can of diced tomatoes (juice and all). I also added a pinch of ground chipotle (you don’t want to add it too early because even a small about of hot pepper will build intensity during slow liquid cooking). And then I let it simmer until I was about ready to go to work.
When I get home and heat it up, it will probably require one finishing touch – about a teaspoon of flour (whole wheat, why not) shaken together with some lukewarm water. Add that to the soup and then cook it all for another 20 minutes, and you are good to go.