Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekly Lunch: Orca Bean and Delicata Squash Soup

Have you ever tried to take a picture of a bowl of soup? I clearly need some practice. I'm looking at photos from people like Heidi Swanson and trying to learn what I can. Here are some things I've noticed:
  • Pile the soup components above the broth if possible - broth is not photogenic
  • Garnish is your friend (especially for monochrome soups)
  • Don't take pictures in your cubicle with overhead fluorescent lighting (!)
Despite the picture, I promise that this is really tasty and warming for this very autumnal week we are having.

I found these cute orca beans and couldn't resist buying a bag. I cook dried beans only sporadically, but I eat beans so often I should really use dried ones more frequently. Please note that these were "fresh" dried beans and did not need to cook for too long, so I just cooked them with the rest of the soup ingredients. If your beans are older, you may want to cook them separately and add the fully cooked beans to your soup.

Orca Bean and Delicata Squash Soup
Makes 5 hearty servings


1 cup dried orca beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1" piece of ginger root, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 small delicata squash, about 1 pound
1/4 of a kabocha squash, about 1/2 pound
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
Several handfuls baby spinach, torn
3/4 cup cooked wheat berries (I had some left over, feel free to use barley or even quinoa)
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the beans and pick out any small stones or misshapen beans. Place in a bowl and cover with 3-4 inches of cold water and let sit at room temperature 8 hours or overnight.

Drain the beans and set aside. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until the onions are soft and the edges are browned. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the cumin and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the drained beans and the stock. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Check on the beans every 20 minutes or so. Peel, seed and chop the squashes into 3/4" chunks. When the beans are close but not quite tender, add the squash chunks and the tomatoes. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes until the squash is tender. Add the cooked wheat berries and the spinach. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

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