This Caribbean inspired recipe marries the flavors of pumpkin, black beans, tomatoes, ham, and sherry to create a very flavorful soup. For a festive and elegant soup tureen, present in a carved out pumpkin shell. Here’s a link to how to prepare a pumpkin shell.
I’ve sautéed the ham to give it more of a smoky flavor, but if you’re in a hurry you could skip that step. For a vegetarian version, omit the ham completely and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.
If you wish to cook the beans from scratch, you’ll need 3 cups of dried beans. I find canned black beans perfectly acceptable drained and well rinsed. In fact if your store doesn’t have a good turn over in their dried black beans, chances are that they are old and will take a long time to cook.
The recipe calls for sherry vinegar. I love sherry vinegar and always have a bottle on my shelf. It’s wonderful tossed with equal parts walnut oil and a neutral tasting oil such as grape seed oil to make a fantastic robust vinaigrette for green salads garnished with toasted walnuts. Recently I posted a rather fancy French arugula salad tossed in a sherry and truffle oil vinaigrette – link here. My French lentil salad also uses sherry vinegar – link here.
The brand of sherry vinegar that I use is Columela from Spain. It’s aged for 30 years in oak barrels (just like wine) and is made from the same grapes that are used to produce Spain’s famous sherries. Fresh Market stocks it in the states as well as Sur la Table, but it’s also available on line from Amazon. In a pinch you could substitute either a good red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar. Balsamic vinegar would be too sweet. Some people say you can use rice wine vinegar, unflavored of course. Personally we use sherry vinegar often enough to warrant having a bottle on hand and it doesn’t seem to go bad, probably because it’s aged.
You could serve this soup now through Thanksgiving or as a first course for an island inspired menu any time during the year. Or perhaps after a chilly Halloween night out on the town. The last minute addition of sherry linds an air of mystery to the soup. Garnish if desired with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Served with a little glass of Spanish sherry, it’s positively magical.
Pumpkin Black Bean Soup Caribbean Style
Adapted from Soup for Every Body by Joanna Pruess – serves 6
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup diced canned tomatoes
1 cup canned pumpkin (not to be confused with pumpkin pie mix)
2 ½ to 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces precooked ham, chopped into small cubes
1 ½ cups finely chopped onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
½ cup dry sherry (do not use cooking sherry, it's awful)
Garnish with sour cream (low fat if you like) or plain yogurt and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Combine the beans and tomatoes in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until the beans have started to smooth out, but are still somewhat chunky. Place in a soup pot, then add the pumpkin and 2 ½ cups of stock. Stir to combine and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the ham and onions and sauté until lightly colored, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and stir for 30 seconds more. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the sautéed vegetables to the soup pot containing the beans and tomatoes. Stir in the sherry vinegar. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat, and stir occasionally to keep soup from sticking to the bottom of the pot, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the sherry and heat through. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary. Add remaining stock if soup seems too thick.
Serve in bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt if desired and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds for a garnish.
This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, It's Fall Y'all at Love Bakes Good Cakes, Food on Friday at Carole's Chatter, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound, Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.
On a separate note, my salad with fresh cherries, goat cheese & pistachios was featured in Daily Foodbuzz’s Top 9 recipes using goat cheese. Thanks Daily Foodbuzz. Here’s a link to the article.