Red Beans and Green Pumpkin Soup
October is a time of change…
Most noticeably, the trees change. What was green till yesterday starts turning into yellows and oranges and bright reds…
Temperature goes from warm to cool…
Sweaters and scarves begin to emerge from storage…
Dawn and dusk move towards each other making days shorter…
Early birds start on their migrations south; squirrels get real busy gathering the last of the nuts…
Winds pick up… trying to shake loose the leaves from the trees, getting them ready for the coming winter…
Beaches get deserted; movies and malls get crowded…
Thermostats go from Cool to Heat…
That reminds me of a funny story. Once I was travelling by train to Canada, in the middle of summer. Inside the train, it was freeeezing! Considering the season, all that I had packed were summer clothes. Not a single sweater or jacket in sight! Finally, I approach the conductor and request that the thermostat be turned up a bit. And she goes… “This train has only two settings; heat or cool. Now it is on Cool. And you know what will happen if I turn it to Heat. Do you want me to get beaten up by the other passengers?” Of course, with a smile. The question that came to the tip of my tongue was, “So you think I can’t beat you up?” but considering that I had to spend a few more hours on the train, I pushed that question right back down. And went back to my seat to look at the warm outside world passing by my window, shivering all the time… Did not made that mistake again; Canada always finds me arriving with a jacket, even at the height of summer!
But I digress… we were talking about changes…
Octoberfest and pumpkin ale reign supreme before making way for robust red wines…
And the produce… oh boy, what an abundance of pumpkins and squashes… In all shapes and sizes and colours. The market is so full of them. And they make such wonderful displays. And so many ways of cooking them!
Before the ripe, orange pumpkins in their varieties get to the market, there is a small window of time when, if you are lucky, you will come across the green ones, likely in a farmers’ market. They are nothing like their later selfs; these are more akin to potatoes in their mealy texture. Though you can cook pretty much anything with them, they excel in soups and stews.
This soup is a quick and easy one. Starting with a base of Mirepoix, you build the soup by simply throwing things into the pot.
I have used a banana pepper as well, just for the reason that it was sitting lonely in the refrigerator and I did not have any other use planned for it. That is precisely how my recipes grow most often.
Among the spice mix, I’ve added a bit of chilli powder which is totally optional. Also, you can either soak dried red beans and boil them or get them out of a can. Tastes equally good either way.
Once you have sautéed the chopped stuff, you will have to move it to a large pot, or start with a pot in which you can do the sautéing as well.
A hunk of crusty bread is all you need to make a great meal!
- 2 lb green unripe pumpkin, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 2 cups cooked red beans
- 2 red onions, chopped fine
- 2 ribs celery, sliced thin
- 1 carrot, slit lengthwise and sliced thinly
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp chilli powder (optional)
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 small bunch cilantro (coriander leaves), minced
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- In a large pot, heat the cooking oil and sauté the onion for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add celery, garlic and carrot and continue sautéing for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the red beans, tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, cumin and chilli powder, if using. Stir together.
- Add 5 cups of water to the mix and bring to boil.
- Add the pumpkin pieces and chopped tomato.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning and add the minced cilantro.
- Remove from heat and serve hot with crusty bread.