I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
Fall can be a bit fickle. Waking up to glorious sunny mornings with a chill in the air gives way to afternoons that turn quite warm, reminding you more of summer than an autumn day. Indian Summer is nature’s last tease as winter will not be far behind.
We returned last evening from our second On The Road culinary adventure to Louisville, Kentucky where we had a real taste of fall. The rolling hills and farmland were painted in autumn colors. Sugar maples were a stunning iridescent orange. The oaks were bright red and the pastures a verdant green. It was just beautiful. The fog blanked the Kentucky River as we made our way to Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery (At Buffalo Trace) for a private tour of the distillery with Julian P. Van Winkle III. The morning air was chilly and brisk allowing me to break out bulky sweaters and boots that I have not seen in so long. Of course, by afternoon, we had all shed our jackets taking in that burst of Indian Summer.
Before we departed for Kentucky, when the temps were a bit cooler at home, I made a hearty vegetarian bean soup, in the spirit of the new season. I was looking for something quick that is healthy and satisfying and warms up your soul, as any good soup should do. Soup is pure comfort food this time of year.
The mixture of black beans, black-eyed peas, navy beans, and pearled barley are a nice blend for this soup. Roasted corn and butternut squash add another texture and level of flavor. I found that no real additions were necessary to the recipe and I was happy with the richness and complexity of the soup once it was reduced.
With something this gratifying, there is no need to complicate a meal; a simple salad, a loaf of crusty bread, and of course, a nice wine to pair with it. I love the transition from summer’s bright flavors to the rich, deep, and more intense flavors of fall. Those warm, satisfying, and rustic dishes are upon us once again.
Bountiful Black Bean Soup
Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours
The black bean soup mix can be found in stores that carry Bob's Red Mill products or ordered online.
2 cups Roasted Corn ( I used fresh yellow corn)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
4 stalks Celery, including leaves, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, minced
8 cups Vegetable Broth (I used Whole Foods brand)
1/2 pkg Bob's Red Mill Black Bean Soup Mix (1 3/4 cups)
1 28 ounce can Tomatoes, diced (with liquid)
2 cups Butternut Squash, cut into large bite-size cubes
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon dried Basil
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped Thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat; add onions and celery and sauté until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for one more minute.
2. Carefully pour in stock and scrape bottom of the pan to release any brown bits. Stir in the Black Bean Soup Mix and tomatoes. Add the butternut squash and roasted corn. Add herbs, stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 1/2 hour to prevent sticking. Add more stock or water if beans and squash absorb too much liquid.
To roast corn: It is convenient to use frozen corn, however, fresh was still available, so I chose to use it. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread frozen corn on a lightly greased cookie sheet and roast in oven for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and cool.
Recipe courtesy of Bob's Red Mill