Hot weather has extended the best part of the growing season, and many CSAs are giving out mega-shares right now, designed to hole you up for a winter of good eating.
If you don't have a farm share, you can still benefit from a lot of beautiful fall vegetables, and some summer stuff, too. This is the time of year for grabbing garlic, alliums, winter squash and potatoes at the farmers market; lots of corn is still available, too. I saw 80-cent-per-pound winter squash at the North Adams market this past weekend!
As a former vegetarian, I feel strongly that a meal does not have to have meat to be a meal. You can do amazing things with vegetables, and still get plenty of protein and vitamins into your body. I created this soup in that spirit; black beans pick up the protein end, while local veggies simmer for a nice, deep flavor. The squash's flavor is enriched and amplified by roasting, which adds another layer to this — and will keep your oven going a little longer on a cold fall day.
The whole thing is amplified by a tiny bit of chipotle sauce — the kind that comes in a can with chipotle peppers. If you've never heard of this, don't worry — check the "international" section of the grocery store and you'll find many different brands.
If you are actually a vegetarian, you can swap my chicken broth for vegetable broth with no big difference in flavor. Store-bought broth is fine, but it's always better to make your own. If you don't have any on hand, just take the scraps from the veggies you cut up for this soup and boil them for 20-30 minutes, then strain.
Butternut squash and local vegetable soup with chipotle
1/2 of a roasted butternut squash, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 to 2 red potatoes, chopped
1 can black beans
2 tsp. chipotle sauce
1 ear of fresh corn, stripped from the cob or 1 or 2 peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves of chopped garlic
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
tsp saffron (optional)
1 pint broth — chicken or vegetable
To roast squash: Preheat oven to 350. Split squash lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds. Rub with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast 1 hour, then let cool before peeling and chopping. Set aside.
Preheat large saucepan to medium-high and let butter melt a little before adding onions and garlic. Let cook, stirring regularly, until onion and garlic is translucent and beginning to brown. Add peppers (if using), butternut squash and potatoes, then add tomato paste, tumeric, saffron, and salt and pepper. Stir and let cook 3 to 5 minutes, then add black beans (with bean liquid!) and broth, then stir in chipotle sauce.
Let simmer on medium for 30 to 45 minutes, then use either an immersion blender or potato masher to mash up the soup a little. This will add some texture and really meld the flavors together. I usually just give it four or five pulses with my immersion blender.
Stir to make sure blended parts mix in, then serve with nice, crusty bread.