Black Bean Pumpkin Soup - Perfect Entertaining
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Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

I have developed a fascination with black beans. Maybe it is the food stylist hidden deep inside me that adores the black color. Maybe it is their versatile flavor. Maybe it is simply because they are always inexpesive and therefore allow me to try out many recipes with them without breaking my budget. Whatever the reason, I had a lot of fun experimenting and developing different recipes. This recipe is actually a modification of a recipe from the November 1996 issue of Gourmet Magazine. Both I and my taste testers found my version to be a bit more pleasing to the palate. Of course since half of them were vegetarians and would not even taste the other version, I guess my results were not too surprising. This version with the beef broth is sublime, but for a vegetarian version, you can make it with a rich vegetable broth and it will still be very very good. For a soup with a little bit of a chunky texture, reserve some of the black beans and add with the red wine. Heat until the black beans are heated through.

1/4 cup butter
2 medium onions, chopped
6 chopped shallots
5 cups cooked black beans
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
5 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste...I like a lot more in this dish)
4 cups beef broth
2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
sour cream
roast pumpkin seeds

Melt the butter in a large heavy soup kettle over medium heat. Add the onions and shallots and cook until the onions become soft and trasnlucent. While the onions are cooking, place the black beans and tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Process until "coarsely pureed". Add the garlic, cumin, and black pepper and cook for an additional three minutes. Stir in the bean puree and mix to coat well with the onion mixture. Add the broth, pumpkin, and wine. Stir well to combine. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for half an hour. Add the red wine vinegar and salt to taste. Stir and continue to cook until seasoned through. Spoon the soup into serving bowls and garnish with sour cream and roast pumpkin seeds.

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