Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup with Sweet Potato Croûtes

A fabulous Mexican-style soup that features one of the healthiest foods you can eat — cholesterol-lowering, high-fibre and heart-healthy black beans. This south of the border sensation features a winning combination of black beans, onions, tomatoes and smokey chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, simmered to perfection and infused with spices to create an exquisite soup that’s got just the right kick. This soup is loud, beefy, spicy, smoky, textured and complex and has no cream — thickened only by coarsely-puréed black beans. 

Pumpkin purée is yet another star in this ensemble cast, but the prima donna — potassium-rich sweet potato cubes that are pan-roasted to form crisp little 'croutons'. Joined by omega-3 packed creamy avocado, tangy fat-free Greek yogurt and a drizzle of Chipotle hot sauce, this soup is an award-winning combination of healthy heart-smart foods in one dish. Served with a salad and crusty piece of bread, it's substantial enough to be a meal in itself. 

Spicy Black Bean & Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Sweet Potato Croûtes
Serves 8
photo courtesy Lauren/Healthy Food for Living

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups yellow onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
2 tsp adobo sauce
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste
3 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned tomatoes, drained

1 16 oz can pumpkin purée, about 1 1/2 cups
4 cups beef broth

1/2 cup dry sherry
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, for garnish
Chipotle hot sauce

Sweet Potato Croûtes: 
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic cloves, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, cumin, cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add in the drained beans, tomatoes, pumpkin purée, dry sherry and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. 

Meanwhile, while the soup is simmering, start to prepare the sweet potato croutons. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the cubes of sweet potato, a generous pinch of kosher salt and the chile powder. Stir to coat the sweet potato and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until crisp and browned on the bottom. Stir the potatoes and brown the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat until all sides of the sweet potato cubes are crisp and browned, then drain on paper towel, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Once the soup is cooked through, purée the mixture using an immersion blender or by transferring the soup into a blender, and process in batches. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the Spicy Black Bean & Pumpkin Soup in warmed bowls and garnish with Sweet Potato Croutons, diced avocado, yogurt and a drizzle of chipotle hot sauce. Hay Caramba!

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