Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

Sometimes, a little vegetable goes a long way. I bought a modest wedge of pumpkin last Saturday, and sweet and nutrition dense as it is, it fed us three times over- I used a third of the wedge for pumpkin kaap (made the same way as these but using pumpkin slices instead of eggplant), a third for the excellent pumpkin dhansak from Nandita's blog, and the last portion for this soup.

The inky, muddy look of black bean soup is just a facade; underneath the surface is nothing but tasty goodness. Pumpkin adds a beautiful sweetness that sets off the earthy legume. As soups go, this one is fairly simple, with three main ingredients, pumpkin, black beans and tomatoes, and two seasonings, chipotle chillies and cumin. I debated about adding other ingredients like bell peppers and corn, but in the end, the simplicity is what makes this soup special.

The recipe below is infinitely flexible. If you don't have access to chipotles in adobo, use any chilli powder, or Mexican/taco seasoning or hot sauce instead. If you don't have pumpkin on hand, any winter squash such as butternut squash or acorn squash would be a wonderful substitute. Sweet potatoes would be equally at home in this recipe. For the stock, I used this homemade vegetable bouillon, a sweet gift from Alanna. It is wonderful stuff! 

Black Bean Pumpkin Soup
(makes 6 generous servings)

1. Soak 1 cup black beans for 8 hours or so, then rinse then thoroughly.

2. In the body of a pressure cooker, heat 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.

3. Saute 1 medium onion, diced, and 4 minced garlic cloves until fragrant.

4. Add the following spices and seasonings and stir for a few seconds-
1 heaped tsp. cumin powder
1 minced chipotle pepper in 1 tsp. adobo sauce (or to taste)

5. Add-
4 cups pumpkin cubes
Soaked and rinsed black beans
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock or water
Salt to taste, only if required

6. Pressure cook. Once the pressure is released, mash or puree the soup together, or leave it chunky. Adjust the consistency of the soup by adding water if necessary.

7. Stir in a large handful of minced cilantro and squeeze in some lime juice.

I loved the soup in its pure form, but you could top it with a dollop of thick yogurt or sour cream, some shredded cheese, or crushed tortilla chips.

I am sending this soup over to My Legume Love Affair. The 21st edition is hosted by Superchef @ Mirch Masala.

*** *** *** 
We enjoyed the soup with an unlikely side- pesto eggplant pizza. I had two dough balls in the freezer, and an eggplant lurking in the crisper, and just put the two together.

The pizza dough recipe is my new favorite- it is Peter Reinhart's Napoletana Pizza Dough posted here on 101 Cookbooks.

I made the recipe by hand and followed the instructions very closely. It is a strange recipe, in the sense that you use chilled flour and ice cold water to make the dough. The recipe made 6 pizza dough balls, and each is sufficient for an individual sized pizza- depending on the individual. I know certain individuals (who shall go unnamed) who can scarf down a couple of these in one sitting!

Another thing I learned was to place the pizza stone on the floor of my gas oven instead of on a rack. When baked at 475F, the pizzas were cooked to perfection (when I used a higher temp, the bottom of the pizza burned before the toppings were bubbly).

But, wow, the pizzas are incredibly close to what you get in "good" pizza places, like The Good Pie here in St. Louis. This recipe uses no whole grain, but for an occasional restaurant-style treat, that's OK by me.

*** *** ***
Last week, I undertook what has to be the quickest craft project ever. 15 minutes from start to finish. But it was 18 months in the making.

I had a large bolt of cotton fabric from Ikea, an impulse purchase which was sitting in a corner of the closet for more than a year. The big idea was to use it to make a tablecloth from it, and if there was fabric left over, to make some cloth napkins. But I don't own a sewing machine to make the hems and keep the edges from fraying and so the project was shelved, quite literally.

Well, your comments on this post were inspiring to say the least, and they spurred me into action. I did a web search for "no sew cloth napkins" and found this. An hour later, I ran into my next door neighbor in the elevator and asked her if she happened to own pinking shears. Minutes later, I borrowed her pinking shears and folded and ripped the bolt of fabric into one tablecloth and 16 cloth napkins. Ta da!

We had a dozen friends over for an Oscar-watching potluck party on Sunday night and I was so proud that we used regular plates and glasses (so what if they were all mismatched), metal cutlery and cloth napkins. No waste from disposables. It is the little things that make me inordinately happy.

Please keep sharing the green tips- I'm always looking for inspiration.


  1. Such a delicious mexican inspired black bean and pumpkin soup and the pizza is so unique with eggplants! I did not know either that there are things like no-sew napkins.. so the sheer edge caused by these special scissors makes the edges from undoing? Okay, I have got to find these scissors somewhere now.

  2. Nupur,You are definetely one multi talented personality.. with all the cooking/knitting and now sewing as well.Will try ur soup recipe very soon.
    Nupur (London)

  3. it's funny - you posted this just after i'd started to soak black beans for a similar soup recipe, a favourite of mine.
    it uses smoked paprika, red onions, garlic, squash, tomatoes, black beans, sweetcorn & cilantro. similar flavours, i bet - your picture is very reminiscent.

    how long do you pressure cook for?

  4. I love the black bean color, black bean + pumpkin = excellent.

    Nupur hat an great idea to make the table cloth.Most designs on the fabric are themed so I end up using Christmas themed ones all through the year. So with these shears there is no need to stitch the edges? That will be so call, I am all thumbs were stitching is concerned.

  5. I am not a very bean soup person, although yours look great. I am drooling over those eggplant pizzas!

  6. hey pizza with egg plants..thats creative. the black bean and pumpkin soup looks so delicious..

  7. The mexican inspired Soup looks tempting and so does the eggplant pizza... And the no-sew napkins look great:)

  8. Go Girl !! Loved the pattern on the cloth , and no sew napkins and tablecloth wow!! Must buy list now pinking shears :) Love the eggplant pizza, must try this sometime.

  9. Hey Nupur,
    I just remembered when u get dresses stitched in India the tailors usually use these scissors specially for the seams on the sides.Most of my salwar kameez have this zig zag on the inner seams materials(sides).
    I do have a sewing machine but... ur solution is a quick one.
    Now I am thinking may be I can make a couple of tablecloths for different themes like Bdays/diwali/holi/christmas/.........and many more.Fun for my kids to set up the table each time.

  10. Chipotles in adobo sauce are one of my favorite ingredients in the kitchen-- I love how they also add that extra special smoky-sultry quality to some spicy Indian dishes. I can imagine they'd be just amazing in this black bean soup with the pumpkin.
    Those napkins-- hats off! I have some Ikea curtain cloth sitting in my closet for more than six years (I'm not kidding) and I wish I could borrow some of your energy and talent :)

  11. Hi Nupur,

    I tried Peter Reinhart's pizza dough recipe the last time I made pizza. Everyone, including myself, thought it was better than my standard pizza dough recipe. It was crisper, yet tender on the inside. I think this is due to the overnight refrigeration which slows down the yeast and leaves some residual sugar that caramelizes (browns) the dough better and makes it more flavorful. Whatever the reasons, it sure tastes great and has a fantastic texture!!



  12. Fellow MumbaikarMarch 10, 2010 4:38 PM

    Hello Nupur,

    One Quick some of your previous posts you have mentioned that one can buy Goda Masala in US ....can you tell more details abt it available in Patel Brothers or an online Indian store?

    Thanks....ur A-Z marathi is a constant reference at home... :)

  13. Since you enjoyed the pesto eggplant combination, you should try pesto, zucchini and sliced olives pizza. Also add some mozzarella before baking. Sure you'll like it.

  14. Where's your Recipe index tab, Nupur? I remember seeing it when you first changed the look of your blog but I can't see it now.

  15. Yummy! Someday I shall taste the real black beans made at home. :)

    I agree with you... pumpkin wedges last long. I also got one wedge, and used part of it to make Richa's Kaddu ki Sabzi last week, part of it in sambar yesterday and there's the third bit sitting in the freezer :)

    Am thinking of making savoury bread pudding with the rest :)

  16. Never had bean soup and yours looks a wholesome meal, infact me too finished off my pumpkin yesterday following your n cookscottage recipe!

    It was a total hit with us :) Thnks !

  17. Hello Nupur, I came in to check some appetizer ideas from your Recipe List and noticed it is missing. Is that intentional? I am having a beach party this weekend and am to bring in some pre-BBQ fare. TFS and for keeping such a great blog. Angela

  18. PJ- Yes, the wavy edge keeps the threads from fraying too much. You'll find pinking shears sold at all craft stores, good quality ones are a little expensive (around 20 bucks) but will last a lifetime. I was lucky to be able to borrow them :)

    Nupur (London)- But I don't sew- these are no-sew napkins.

    rog peppe- Oh yes, very similar flavors indeed. In my pressure cooker, I only need one whistle to make this.

    indosungod- Yes, with the shears you get a wavy edge which keeps threads from fraying too much. I will say that hems are definitely a neater and more permanent solution but this is a great short-cut for those who don't own sewing machines.
    I know- the US is not the ideal place for buying fabrics- I love shopping for fabric in India. However, any absorbent fabric, like cotton from extra curtains or bedspreads could be used for this project.

    Preeti Kashyap- Yes, the pizzas turned out very tasty.

    Deepa- Thanks!

    Rachana Kothari- Thank you!

    Mayuri- You are absolutely correct, I too remember the side hems on tailored salwars being jagged! If you own a sewing machine, it would only take 5 minutes to make hems and they would be much more permanent than this method.

    Vaishali- Oh, I so agree with you, this one ingredient adds such a punch of flavor, but I haven't tried it in Indian recipes yet. Thanks for the idea.
    Seriously, once you get started with the curtain cloth, you'll finish the project in minutes. Getting started is the challenge. I know the feeling of having something sit there for months :)

    Bruno- Hello! How fun that you liked this pizza dough recipe too. I think this will be my new go-to recipe, especially for simple Margarita pizzas with fresh basil in summer.

    Fellow Mumbaikar- Sorry, I don't know any details about where to find it. You'll have to look around.

    Garden Dreamer- Yes, I've tried that combo and it is very good!

    Priya- I was updating it, it is back up.

    Raaga- Pumpkin adds such a wonderful sweetness- I should try it in sambar.

    Kanchan- Yes, the cook's cottage recipe is fantastic!

    Angela- I was updating the recipe index, but it is back up now.

  19. Soup and the pizza look awesome!

    You are one talented lady! How do manage to do all that cooking, blogging, knitting, school/work and some quick craft projects? Kudos to you

  20. The soup looks so wholesome and eggplant pizza is amazing! Nupur, you constantly keep us surprised by bringing us dishes we never even thought about, me atleast!! The tablecloth and napkins look so bright and attractive, the pinking shears idea is fantastic.
    Yep, and I am using more of the regular tableware. I haven't bought paper or foam plates/cups in a long time. I really hope this catches on!

  21. Soup and pizza are so tempting! I love black bean soup specially with sourdough bread. It makes my full meal :)

    Loved your napkins. And anything non-disposable has is a + for me.

    You rock girl.

  22. I think I am going to try making this tonight with butternut squash- looks yum! I finally bought the 'better than buillon' veggie base- do you think that would work in this? I have been eyeing Heidi's homemade broth but have never tried making it..
    That pizza looks to die for!
    and those cloth napkins are adorable- what a happy blue!

  23. myspicykitchen- Thanks!

    Namita- Oh, I think there are a million variations of this soup, all of them delicious :)
    Isn't it nice to use "real" stuff instead of paper and styrofoam? I really hope more and more get-togethers can do away with that trash.

    Mints!- I agree, a good hearty bread and this soup would be a complete and satisfying meal.
    Good to know that you're on the side of the reusables too :)

    Lavanya- The "better than bouillon" would be perfect in this. Once I run through the base that Alanna gave me, I'll be trying Heidi's recipe for sure.

  24. Very healthy soup, indeed. Never had them b'4 but very positive it will taste great, picture speaks for itself:)

  25. Nupur, I'm coming to your house for dinner. :) This soup sounds amazing! Any tips on adjusting it for non-pressure-cooker cooking?

  26. Malar Gandhi- Yes, it is healthy indeed.

    Jenn- Absolutely, come over any time you like :)
    You could start with canned beans and simmer the soup on the stove top until the pumpkin is cooked through. It will still only take 15-20 minutes.

  27. Thanks for that pizza recipe - sounds perfect - I am always trying to perfect pizzas.

    That project is absolutely inspired - what a lovely design that is!

  28. Hi.....Nupur
    Such a lovely post from you(as usual catering to high standards that you have set)The recipe is interesting and clicks look so wonderful....I dont think i would have been half as eager to try this soup if it wasnt for your lovely use of words..The inky, muddy look of black bean soup is just a facade; underneath the surface is nothing but tasty goodness. Pumpkin adds a beautiful sweetness that sets off the earthy legume....This just made me sprint to the market to buy black beans and make this soup........You do have a way with words and your writings are as enjoyable and beautiful as your recipes...and your quickest craft project ever of no sew cloth napkins is great.....u have inspired me to try it......i had never heard of pinking shears either..thanks for sharing that as well...Great work….you had a potluck party and didnt use any paper disposable items....keep up the good work..."Go Green"

  29. Hi Nupur, just made this soup for tonight's dinner. Had a taste and can't wait for dinner.It's going to be perfect for this horrible weather in the North East. It is really really delicious! Thanks for such a great recipe.

  30. Miri- Oh this pizza recipe is really worth trying!

    Rujuta- What a nice thing to say, thank you so much!

    Marietta- Oh I hope you enjoy dinner and I'm so glad the recipe worked for you! Thank you for taking the time to give me your feedback :) I do hope you get lots of warmth and sunshine up there soon.

  31. Nupur,

    This is for the fellow Mumbaikar. Kepra Goda masala is available in many Indian stores.

  32. How long do you pressure cook the black bean soup?


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