We just returned from a trip to Italy. Italy was magnificent, distinctive, tasteful everything great that is associated with Italy. And we were fortunate enough to have temperatures in the 70s and 80s for 85% of our trip. When we arrived it was sunny and warm and the same the day we left. There were couple days towards the end when we were in Venice that it rained and was cloudy but other than those two days, we thoroughly enjoyed the weather. We returned on Sunday afternoon. What did we find? Cold. I was sad it was a drastic temperature shock.
While driving home we caught a glimpse of the Swiss Alps covered in snow. And if that wasn't enough, upon returning we saw this beautiful color on the trees from our living room window. This scenery makes it official that it’ll be cold and the days will be dreary in the upcoming months.
We’re trying to embrace the cold and accept the fall and winter months but it’s taking some adjusting especially because we walk everywhere. None the less, one area that will keep us warm is the aromas from the kitchen with homemade meals especially soups and stews.
Black bean and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 dried chiles de árbol, dried & left whole
1/2 teaspoon epazote
2 tomatoes in juice, roasted and chopped
1 pound butternut squash, halved, seeded, roasted and chopped
1 20-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained (or dried beans, soaked overnight and cooked in a pressure cooker for 3 whistles or in the slow cooker for 4 hours on low)
1 teaspoon Salt
Preheat oven to 400°F
Slice butternut squash in half, oil the cut side, wrap in foil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Leave tomatoes whole and add them to the pan with the squash 20 minutes after squash has been in the oven.
Heat oil in heavy 5-quart dutch oven or a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, chiles, epazote, salt and stir. Cook until the spices release their aroma, 1 minute. Peel and chop the tomatoes and add them with juices to the pot.
When the squash is cool to touch, peel and discard the skin. Chop the squash in large chunks and add to the pot. Stir in the black beans, water and bring to boil. Taste for seasoning, add salt accordingly. (If the beans are canned, reduce the amount of salt that’s added.) Reduce heat and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Taste and season if necessary.