The first time I had a variation of the Butternut Squash soup with black beans, it was such an unexpected treat. It happened a couple of years ago at the Boston Public Market.
The Boston Public Market is one of my favorite places to wonder in the winter. I love looking at the stalls of the local producers and buying donuts. Every once in a while, I stop there to get a meal. Usually, I either get a pastrami sandwich or I go get food from Bon Me.
On the day I tried the butternut squash soup, I got accosted on my way to Bon Me by an affable guy. He was offering me soup for free. He told me, “if you don’t like the soup, you don’t have to pay for it.” Unlike my normal self, I didn’t brush him off. I figured I had nothing to lose. Plus, I loved his approach. So I tried the soup and I paid for it. It was amazing. His was a vegetarian version that was tangy and spicy with loads of vegetables and beans with sweet potato. I love it and I ate every bit of it.
My version of the soup tries to capture some of the magic of that moment in a simpler version. The butternut squash soup with black beans starts with a mirepoix. Mirepoix is are so commonly sold in grocery store prepped vegetable sections. Buying the vegetable pre-chopped makes life easier but I usually make my own mirepoix at home because I don’t like carrots. Also, I use leeks instead of onions.
The broth is definitely my homemade chicken broth that I have tailored to my specific taste. One special thing that I do with my soup is make cut my butternut squash into tiny cubes. Bigger cubes would work in the soup, they would just need to be cooked longer.
The magic spice in this bowl of goodness is the cumin. The cumin brings everything together and especially after the final squeeze of lime. Don’t skip out on the cumin or the lime. It makes such a huge difference to the way the taste plays out.
If there is one thing I am loving this winter, it is finding easy ways to eat my vegetables on the regular without it feeling like a chore. This butternut squash soup with black beans is such a joyous experience that I can’t help repeating it.
The butternut squash soup with black beans takes me back to a beautiful moment of discovering new food profiles unexpectedly. It is such a joyful recipe because of its robust flavor with cumin and lime playing with the sweetness of the butternut squash.
This the perfect recipe to use the pre-cut butternut squash that is sold in the stores. It cuts down on prep time. Cut the butternut squash into chunks if you are prepping it yourself. I prefer smaller pieces to cut down on cooking time.
Smash the garlic cloves. Add the oil into a medium saucepan. After heating for a minute, add the mirepoix and smashed garlic cloves. Sprinkle a pinch of salt. Stir frequently and allow the vegetables to sweat for few minutes until translucent.
Once mirepoix looks soft, add in the butternut squash chunks and the cumin. Stir frequently for about four minutes, then add in the chicken broth. Bring it up to a simmer.
Add in the black bean. Taste the soup to check that salt is at an optimal level. Let it all cook together until the butternut squash chunks are tender.
Serve soup in a bowl with a wedge of lime. Squeeze lime juice over the soup before eating.
My Sundays are for family. Although I live far away from my family, this is the day I have chosen to reconnect with them. I make phone calls to my mother and my sister. I spend a considerable amount of time trying to find a cozy place to settle myself while I gab. This grapefruit papaya smoothie is one of the foods I use to power my conversations.
I am a creature of habit. Staying in my comfort zone means creating routines that allow me to feel grounded even as my life changes. Talking to my mom on Sunday is one of the habits that keeps me grounded. It is a routine I have had in place for almost half of my life. No matter where I have lived, my mother knows I will call her on Sunday. It is something she has come to look forward to. On the rare Sunday that I don’t call, I feel guilty and she feels worried. So, I unless it is completely unavoidable, the Sunday call is a sacred part of my life.
The first time I saw the grapefruit papaya combination, I believe it was on a package of baby food. It was one of those things that I laughed at. But in the spirit of discovering new foods, I tried to replicate it with the grapefruit papaya smoothie. The last laugh is on me.
It is an undeniably interesting combination, I know. And it is one I never thought would work. Somehow, three years later, I am still regularly reaching for a grapefruit papaya smoothie. As much as I loathe the process of making this smoothie because I have to segment a whole grapefruit, it is worth the effort. Especially when I make it ahead and I can treat myself to a glass of chilled grapefruit papaya smoothie.
Add the grapefruit segments and papaya cube into a blender. Also, pour in any juice that might have dripped from segmenting the grapefruit. Blend the mixture until it is a smooth and creamy consistency.
Pour into a cup. Squeeze the wedge of lime on the smoothie just before drinking. The lime juice adds dimension.
The St.Clements drink is a classic mocktail. Since I am that person that just can’t let things be, I decided to play around with the recipe for the St.Clements. A classic version of the St. Clements features orange juice and bitter lemon. It actually sounds really yummy.
I decided to play on the name of St.Clements drink by using clementine juice. It is the middle of winter and there is an abundance of citrus around. One of the reasons why I wanted something other than orange juice is because I find it a bit much. Clementine juice is much softer and has a floral note when compared to an orange.
For the lemonade or bitter lemon aspect of this St. Clements drink, I made my own syrup. It pretty much follows the formula for the Grapefruit Thyme syrup I shared before. Except, I am using a mix of lemon and lime in this recipe.
The other adjustment to the classic recipe is using a mix of ginger beer and sparkling water to finish up the drink. The ginger adds a bit of heat to the drink to compliment the hint of florals from the clementine and the bitterness of the lemon-lime syrup.
I have a feeling this St.Clements is about to be a drink I reach for constantly. It is such a ready palette to play to with other flavors like basil or even a bit of thyme. I also imagine that infusing some jalapeno into the lemon-lime syrup would make for a memorable drink.
Let me know if you try this recipe. Follow me on Instagram and use the hashtag #willeatthis.
3ozClementine juiceI found that this is the juice of 1.5 clementine
In a drink shaker, add in ice, clementine juice, lemon-lime syrup. Shake.
Strain the clementine juice mix into a tall glass. Add in the ginger beer. Top it off with sparkling water to taste.
The lemon-lime syrup in this recipe refers to my recipe for Grapefruit Thyme syrup. Also, I only added a few ounces of ginger beer because I wanted slight heat. If you prefer, you can top the drink up completely with ginger beer. You can also entirely skip the ginger beer and just use sparkling water. This drink is versatile.