A Perfect Way to End the Day

Spicy butternut squash and black bean soup: big on flavor and easy on the waistline

By: Mandy Ashcraft
Photos By: Dustin Ashcraft

There’s something about the changing weather that makes a hardy bowl of soup the most perfect, relaxing way to end the day. This one is mildly spicy, but it has the sweetness of squash. It is also easy on the waistline, so you can splurge a little on holiday desserts. Serves 4.

Ingredients:
1 medium purple onion, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups uncooked butternut squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 four-cup carton vegetable stock (not unsalted)
1/2 cup red quinoa, uncooked
20-ounce can black beans with jalapeños and lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
Garnish options: avocado, cilantro, green onions, chives, sour cream and cayenne pepper

Instructions:
1/ Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pan or dutch oven. Add onions and allow to caramelize approximately 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, stir to distribute evenly and allow to cook for 1 minute.

2/ In a bowl, toss butternut squash with cumin and oregano. Add to pan with onions, and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup vegetable stock, and use a metal spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan (“deglaze”).

3/ Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and dry quinoa, bring to a rapid boil and then add remaining vegetable stock. Bring it back to a boil before reducing heat to medium and allowing to cook 8 to 10 minutes until butternut squash is soft, but still holds shape and quinoa is cooked through.

4/ Pour can of beans through a strainer and rinse so you retain the jalapeños and flavor-infused beans, but do not discolor your soup with the liquid from the can. Add to pot, stir and allow beans to heat through. Remove from heat.

5/ Garnish with desired toppings, and serve hot.

For more information, visit www.mandyashcraft.com.

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