Despite what you make believe, I haven’t eaten any winter squash recently. I bought a colourful carnival squash but haven’t made anything with it yet. I have this recipe I made while in Houston. The giveaway? The frozen roasted corn. I can’t say I have seen that since returning to Toronto.
This is a perfect end-of-summer, beginning of fall soup, as the last of the local corn arrives and the first winter squashes arrive. Or perfect for the dead of winter, too, using frozen corn kernels.
The Three Sisters, referring to the dietary staples of the Mesoamerican diet: corn, beans and squash. They often grow together, each plant benefitted from the others. The lankly corn husks provided a structure for the beans to latch onto. The squash covers the ground, preventing pesky weeds from appearing. And like all beans, they return nitrogen to the soil to help nearby plants. It makes sense that meals would also center around such foods, equally creating a balanced meal. This meal is simple but elevated by choice herbs and spices (cilantro, chiles, smoked paprika, garlic) with a heavy hand of lime juice. I used the full amount in the recipe and even I, the lover of all things tart, found it off-putting. Please start with less and taste as you go.
The recipe comes from a cookbook I have been meaning to write about for a while, Extraordinary Vegan. I can see Allan is a partial kindred spirit in the kitchen as he realizes a few choice ingredients can elevate meals to become extraordinary. Like I have said, some of my favourite, albeit unusual ingredients, are Aleppo chile flakes, pomegranate molasses, smoked paprika and miso. These are a few of the ingredients Allan uses to create his meals. I had a few of these in my Houston kitchen, but still piecing together my larger pantry here, and now looking forward to trying other recipes. Many recipes are simple but a few use a few hard to find ingredients. Here are a few other recipes I have spotted around the web from Extraordinary Vegan.
Are the squashes out in full force in your kitchen yet?
Three Sisters Soup (Black Bean, Corn and Squash Soup)
Adapted from Extraordinary Vegan
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
2 cups diced kabocha squash squash (or a peeled winter squash of your choice)
12 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
5-6 cups of stock or water (I used 5 cups water + 1 tbsp nutritional yeast and 1/2 tsp 21-Spice Salute)
salt, to taste
1 tsp ground Ancho chiles (optional, I did not use)
1 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 cups corn (I used frozen roasted corn)
2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained if canned
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (please use less! start with half a lime and proceed from there)
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1. In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat oil. Once hot, add onions and cook, stirring continuously, until softened, around 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Add bell pepper and cook until they begin to soften, another 2 minutes. Add squash and garlic and stir well. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, around 10 minutes.
2. Add the water, salt, chile flakes, smoked paprika and stir to blend. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add corn and black beans and return to a boil. Once boiling, decrease heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer until all the vegetables are cooked through, approximately 10-20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Adjust seasoning to taste. Top with additional hot sauce/sriracha, if desired.